I'm looking for a translation for "To have is better than not to have", which I want to use as a sort of motto for a project I'm doing. I have already asked some friends to help me, and they proposed "Habere melius est cum caret". But they also said, that there are likely some mistakes. So I'm hoping that someone on here can help me.

1 Answer 1


You can translate it very literally if you want:

  1. Habere melius est quam non habere.

Instead of non habere, "not to have", you can use egere or carere which mean roughly "to lack". To compare the nuances of these two, please refer to any of the several online Latin dictionaries. This gives two more translation options:

  1. Habere melius est quam carere.
  2. Habere melius est quam egere.

Any of these three is a possible choice.

Let me then comment on the suggested Habere melius est cum caret.

The simplest basic structure here is X melius est quam Y, "X is better than Y". Here X and Y can be almost anything. If they are verbs, they should both be infinitives. That is, not caret but carere.

The word cum has a number of different meanings. The most relevant one here seems to be "when". Your suggestion can be read as "it is better to have when [it] has not". This seems to go into a very different direction than what the English phrase suggests you want.

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