Have & have got

Form & meaning

  1. Have got and have are used to talk about possession.
    • I’ve got a new house / I have a new house.
    • Has she got a car? / Does she have a car?
  2. Have got and have are used to talk about relationships.
    • Have you got a girlfriend? / Do you have a girlfriend?
    • He’s got three brothers / He has three brothers.
  3. Have got and have are used to talk about illnesses.
    • I’ve got a bad cold / I have a bad cold.
    • I’ve got a headache / I have a headache.
  4. Have got and have are used to talk about characteristics.
    • Her office has got a nice view / Her office has a nice view.
    • Why has he got a tattoo? / Why does he have a tattoo?

Additional points

  1. Have got and have cannot be used in the progressive form to express the meanings above.
    • I ‘ve got / have a headache – correct
    • I’m having a headache – Incorrect
  2. have is more common than have got when talking in the past.
    • She had a pink guitar when she was 13. – more common
    • She had got a pink guitar when she was 13. – less common
    • Did you have a headache yesterday? – more common
    • Had you got a headache yesterday? – less common

Pronunciation

See the phonemic chart for IPA symbols used below.

  1. In fast connected speech, assimilation occurs with got in have got when the following word begins with a vowel sound.
    • I’ve got a cat: /gɒdə/

38 teaching ideas

  1. Kathy says:

    have is passive, get is active. I don’t believe the two words are compatible. You either have it or you get it. I got it yesterday. I have it today. Have got is a sloppy, incorrect use of a combination of the two words.

  2. Paul says:

    Thanks Kathy. So the fact that have got is used naturally by nearly all native speakers (I wonder if you yourself have NEVER uttered the words, “I’ve got to pick up the kids from school”) has no effect on your belief that it is “sloppy” and “incorrect”?

  3. Martin says:

    I’ve got to do something is different from the have got possession form, because the former goes with a verb and the latter goes with a noun.

    I’ve got a headache. (a headache is a noun)
    I’ve got to pick up the kids from school. (pick up is a verb) (verb phrase)

    I’ve got a car or I have a car is just a difference between BE and AE. The Americans tend to use I have and the Brits I have got. In the British sense, the got part could be seen as the past of get, and means that you already have got something so you already own it, it is there with you now. It suggests that at sometime or other you actually went out and bought a car for example, or that you have lived with ‘a brother’ (I’ve got a brother) for sometime.

    We use both forms all the time yet we just don’t think about it… in fact, if you start thinking about it, you start to wonder whether it is correct, but it is! You can say I’ve got a new house or I have a new house, it’s the same thing.

    Finally, gotten is an American thing… although there are similarities in the idea with the British have got it is used in the present perfect in American English… he has gotten himself into trouble.

  4. Becky says:

    It’s not really so much a case of BrE and AmE, I think. It’s more to do with spoken and written language. We tend to write I have…, but say I’ve got… However, it is true that Americans say I have…, while British people say I’ve got… more often. You can still often hear Americans saying I’ve got… and Brits saying I have… though!

  5. Jon says:

    Hi, I’m slightly worried about all the posts bashing the use of have got.

    I’ve got black hair or
    She’s got a big nose.

    These are both natural and perfectly correct, NOT sloppy and incorrect!

    By the way – I’ve a car is definitely a big no-no and something we would want our students to avoid… I challenge the anonymous poster to find a credible example! Seems like some people need to re-consult their grammar reference books…
    Just my two cents ;-)

  6. Lucia says:

    I always focus on the fact that the use of have and have got differs more in the form rather than in the function – it’s a grammar issue. I point out for instance that have, like most other verbs needs an aux verb for the negative and interrogative forms and that have got doesn’t. I also like to highlight the fact that have got whenever possible should use short forms (I’ve got / he’s got) and have should always use the full forms (I have, he has, etc).

  7. John says:

    Hello to everyone. We, English teachers in Spain, are suposed to teach HAVE GOT rather than HAVE and it is shown in all grammar books we use in our schools. I agree with Jon (two posts above) and with the fact that we use full forms of HAVE and short forms of HAVE GOT.

  8. Tai says:

    Paul, regardless if every American (myself included) is saying something incorrectly, it’s still incorrect… and sloppy. Anyone who actually paid attention in grammar class, knows that we Americans continually bastardize the English language. Why is this a bad thing? Take a trip to the US Virgin Islands and see what happens when a language is left to evolve on it’s own for a couple centuries. You can hardly understand what the native people are saying.

  9. Aaron says:

    No way Jon, John and Lucia! Right on Tai! We should feel remorse for the ESL students in Spain and in many other places. English grammar strictly states that have got is incorrect and rightly so: have (pres) and got (past tense) should never be used together or taught as a correct usage in English, regardless of its idiomatic usage.

    The formula for constructing this type of sentence is present auxiliary plus past participle, not present aux. plus past tense. Jon and Lucia, do you teach your students to say “Today, I have saw a car or I have ate a pizza, today?” Well, if not, then please don’t teach them to use have-present aux. with got-past tense verb. Even though I, myself, often use it for comic, emphatic or obvious, grammar-abandoning reasons, or, even, simple laziness, I would never use it in the classroom or use it when teaching, unless as an example.

    We Americans once learned this throughout elementary, middle and junior high school. The declining of grammar usage is despicable and even pervades most of today’s authors. Grammar is the verbal (linguistic) mechanism which helps to preserve the habit of forethought. Lucia, to respond to your quandary, “I’ve a car” is a possible, grammatically correct usage; however, it’s pragmatically hard to imagine. It’s foreseeable to be practical when many people need to sequentially state or affirm that they have something; however, communicating via writing, in itself, may preclude the above scenario and repeated use of I’ve an object.

  10. Glen says:

    Aaron–I submit that there is a difference in meaning between “I have got something” and “I have gotten something“. The first is a matter of present possession. The second is present perfect, indicating that something has been received in the past. (as with your examples of “I have seen a car” etc.) Hence the question of what exactly “have got” is, and how to teach it… You may simply be correct that this mysterious phrase is simply bad English, but I have my doubts. There are situations where it really does seem to be the more natural utterance. (Q: “Hey! Where’s my stapler?” A: “Oh sorry. I’ve got it. Here.”—“I have it” sure seems odd sounding in this case.)

    And to Tai’s point regarding the Virgin Islands and a ‘language evolving on its own’, that’s a living language for you. Unless you’re dealing with a dead language like Latin, it will continue to change, evolve, or devolve. Sorry. Language can’t be permanently fixed in a grammar book.

  11. Claudia says:

    Well, the British form is get-got-got and the American form is get-got-gotten. In my point of view, there’s a great difference between them. It´s clear that we´re talking about Present Perfect, which means that there’s a connection with past and present. “I’ve got a car” (means that you got it at a certain time in the past and you still have it) But, if I didn´t have a car and I decided to buy one, for example, the right form at that time is: “I have a car” and not, “I´ve got a car” because there´s no connection with the past, just with the present.

  12. cdelphine84 says:

    We can use ‘have got‘ to speak about something very personal, something we “owe” and ‘have‘ for something that can’t last, that is not ‘ours’.

    I have got blond hair. (I was born with it, it’s mine)
    I have blond hair on my jacket. (where does it come from?)

    I’ve got a car. (it’s a statement about the object: a car belongs to me)
    I have a car. (it’s a statement about an opportunity: I can go there, or I can drive you there.)

  13. Sam says:

    Still a lot of snobbery in the English speaking world I see. Have got is a perfectly valid form of speaking seeing how so many people use it. It is not sloppy as it takes longer to say than just ‘have‘ and it is not incorrect as so many people use it. It is not present perfect either it is just a special unique verb that has evolved. If you think it is incorrect you are obviously a snob, a moron or just not a native speaker. Language changes all the time. Think about it.

  14. Jeremy says:

    I don’t understand why people bother saying ‘I’ve got‘. It’s grammatically incorrect and longer and more complicated than merely saying ‘I’ve‘ or ‘I have‘. I think that Aaron explained it well enough; there is no logical reason to say ‘I’ve got‘ in any context, whether talking about the past or the present.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I’ve got” as in “I’ve got a car” is perfectly correct. You may consult any grammar book if you don’t believe this. It is very basic grammar and is rather shocking that some people on here are not aware of that. It isn’t a good idea to post something on here if you don’t understand English grammar. Some people may be refering to this for reference so please don’t state something as fact unless you are sure.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Of course “have got” is a correct form… there’s no argument about it. It’s neither sloppy nor incorrect. It’s rather worrying though that so many people don’t seem to realise this. Let’s leave giving advice on the English language to the professionals!

  17. Marie says:

    I am new to teaching English, so this is fascinating for me! The one idea that immediately springs to mind (which i think is a new one and not yet mentioned) is that using have got instead of simply have is illustrating a grammatical tautology.

    I have a car (grammatically correct) I got a car (grammatically incorrect but still conveys the information) I have got a car ??!!

    I don’t know whether usage of have got is correct or not. But i do know I simply don’t like the sound of the word got!

    If the English language is going to evolve in this way, so be it – but it won’t be anything to do with me!!

    I like the explanation of the different implications suggested by cdelphine64…

  18. Sally says:

    I remember being taught at school (in England) that to say I’ve got (I doubt any native speaker would say I have got?) is unnecessary, like saying I have have. If I’m attempting to be ‘correct’ I’ll say, for example, I have a car but generally every day I say I’ve got a car along with the majority. I like to think about these things though, and I’d like to see what others think… If I take the meaning of got to be ‘acquire’, then I would use I’ve got to mean ‘I’ve acquired’. Then it sounds correct to me. I’ve got a new car, I like that! Plain I’ve got a car meaning ‘I own/have in my possession a car’, I’d rather say I have a car. Personally, I believe both should be taught, as it is so common and people just can’t agree on which is correct. ;)

  19. Harry says:

    So to come back to the subject – How do you teach have got? I make sure whenever pertinent, to mention differences between British English and American English. Adult students nowadays require more and more of that kind of knowledge in order to not get too lost in semantics. Let’s face it, we are all exposed to both English. And a language, whichever it is, always evolves, be that progression or regression, it just evolves with slight changes and adaptations here and there. Agree, too much snobbery here. I’ve got, I have got, I have gotten and I have are perfectly correct. The use of got is just one of those exceptions that became part of the language. That one form that’s reminiscent to a present perfect because of obvious reasons but that’s actually more of a present. I’ve a car, though grammatically correct can easily be avoided since hardly ever used.

    At the end of the day, you want to teach them practical English, and not by the book English. Unless you are teaching a linguist, to whom the intrinsic nature of these language details might be important for whatever research reasons. But then again, he or she would not necessarily enrol in an ESL course but maybe something more challenging. My 2 cents is, we are here to help non native speakers acquire the level of fluency needed in today’s demanding world, not to over complicate things and confuse them. Trust me: in business English, the simpler the better, in any way imaginable, grammar, vocab, expressions, etc. Any non native who wishes to acquire a higher level of English, will never go for an ESL lesson with a TEFL teacher… trust me. :) I’m an absolute non native language trainer, so… really, my 2 cents only.

  20. David says:

    In the UK, it’s natural English to say I’ve got a car for something you possess (no matter when you acquired it) or to express that you acquired something recently.

    I got a car is natural for something you acquired any time in the past. We don’t use it as much as Americans seem to in the slang-type sense of I have a car but, thinking about it, maybe I might to do without thinking about it. I’m pretty sure some Londoners with thick accents would do. But it’d sound like bad English.

    I have a car is much more polite or well spoken and you won’t hear it too much in the UK, except in those circumstances.

    I’ve gotten a car, is something you won’t hear too often. I know you’d say I’ve gotten a car (right?) but would you say He’s gotten sick? We would not usually say that, but I’m sure there’s a few who might.

    With regards to I’ve a car It’s another way of saying I have, which you say, so it’s certainly not wrong, but it is used sometimes in what we call ‘posh’ English and is sometimes used by us plebs if we’re trying to make something sound more important (maybe, more often, jokingly) “Don’t tell me you’ve got a ticket for Bob Dylan?” “No – I’ve TWO tickets for Bob Dylan.”. No-one would say I’ve soup as a stand alone statement, but I’m sure some well spoken chap or chapess might say I’ve soup on my tuxedo/ballgown. Those people are human too and so it is correct, whether you like it or not.

    Aaron, I’ve a car may be ‘pragmatically hard to imagine’ for you, but then again so is the 24 hour clock! (Sorry other-Americans, that was a sly dig, but only joking!)

    Not trying to start a war, but just a personal niggle here, aimed at Jeremy’s “I don’t understand why people bother saying I’ve got. It’s grammatically incorrect and longer and more complicated than merely saying I’ve or I have.” statement. It’s what we call ‘making the language more interesting’. Making something more complicated, or just having more available options at your disposal, can give language what is called… ‘depth’. The sound of American English is really friendly and it’s far from being a stupid form of the language, so don’t reduce things to the level of “Let’s use the simple-most form of everything and stick RIGIDLY to the rule book” or we might as well just call it a day and do “one grunt for yes, two grunts for no” and then just point at things we want.

  21. Gigi says:

    About “get” and “got”, I agree with Aaron and Tai. “Get” is the verb in the present tense, “got” is the same verb in the past tense. To convey our message we either indicate if we are in the present or in the past. Either one, but not both together. “I have a cold” is simple enough. In answer to Claudia that is a good example of complicating matters, the Spanish language has that rule of if it’s yesterday, it is said in one way, but if it’s longer it’s another word, and if it’s very long, it’s another word. Now Claudia wants us to add not only the past, but if you still have it, or not, on top of all the rest. In my view “got” sure is in the past whether immediate or late past, or active or passive. IT IS IN THE PAST. I think the rule should apply to all verbs equally. Just like give, gave, given, is get, got and gotten. If we make exception for “got”, then given will be if you gave me a present at a certain time and I still have it, it’s in the present, so it should be “give”, and if I don’t still have it, it should be “gave”. What kind of rule is this? This certainly has nothing to do with being a snob, I am in total agreement that language changes to accommodate people, new words are constantly added and needed. Furthermore, I personally think that “got” sounds too much like the word “gut”. Personally I will still continue to use the word have, had and had, it sounds so much simpler and so much nicer.

    P.S. Referring to Jon who is worried about the bashing of the word “have got” with his choice of words: “she is got a big nose”. I do not think Jon should be worried anymore since he has just made Aaron’s point of view very clearly, that when we mix a verb in the present and a verb in the past, no matter what the verb is, it will always come out like: “I have ate a pizza” and “I have saw a car”, and “She is got a big nose”.

  22. Dr G Moran says:

    My dear fellows what a wonderfully orchestrated discussion you have just had. Indeed a performance of much intrigue. Now Aaron is ‘no back of a clock’ so to speak and was it Martin who stamped his authority upon the strange notion of the grammar verse in question taking on a verb as well. Oh my god. The horror. What a crime. Actually i was expecting someone to provide some teaching ideas for ‘have/have got’ but what i got was fantastic. I will not explain have/have got as is too cumbersome and futile to go over again and again. The only thing that fascinates me is that possibly all of you are making a living out of teaching the English language but most of you fail to realise that some grammar points do not obey the rules. I nearly laughed when someone tried to painstakingly deduce that ‘the present’ is not allowed to go with ‘the past’ ecetera ecetera and what about the inclination of the ‘present perfect’ being the function of this grammer point all along like from the very beginning. I nearly wet myself. It was comedy gold. Thank you so much.

    Post scriptum: Why is English mispronouced in America. Again the phonetics are not derived from the look of the words. The language must be heard to be spoken. Is this a deliberate act of independence?

  23. Robert Coulthard says:

    Have none of you (with the exception of Dr Moran, of course) ever heard of Swan’s Practical English Usage? If you had you would see that grammar is not a matter of right and wrong, but of what people actually do with language.

    There are so many completely incorrect posts that it would be hard to know where to start if it weren’t for AARON’s blaze of ignorance lighting the way. I love his formula:

    “The formula for constructing this type of sentence is present auxiliary + past participle, not present aux. + past tense.”
    Problem is, Aaron my dear, that the simple past tense and the past participle ARE THE SAME THING FOR A REGULAR VERB – eg. work, worked, worked and in Brit English the past participle of ‘get’ is ‘got’, just as the simple past is also ‘got’. That’s just simple ignorance of another form of the language, But when he says:
    “English grammar strictly states that ‘have got’ is incorrect and rightly so: ‘have'(pres) and ‘got'(past) should never be used together or taught as a correct usage in English, regardless of its idiomatic usage.”

    He is truly out on a limb since IT’S SIMPLY NOT TRUE!

    I’ve got a dozen or so teaching methods that introduce I have got within the first few units and got(past), it just shows he has no idea what a British irregular verb table looks like, (rather than for the US) ‘got’ is both past tense and past participle. On this particular point, the difference between Am and Br is simply that (British) IRREGULAR verb to get has a different past participle to the one he has learnt. For us got is both the past tense and the past participle. Has he ever heard a British person use the past perfect expression I had gotten? Of course not = we had got, just like we still have got, a different way of doing it.

    If you don’t want to teach that the present perfect is also used to describe possession in this case because it confuses you or because you don’t think your students need to know that’s fine. Please don’t, however, say that English grammar strictly states that ‘have got’ is incorrect and rightly so when that is simply not the case.

    Language can be used to describe reality from any number of different perspectives and the difference between I have and I have got is no more than a change of perspective on the same aspect of reality. When it comes to how to teach it, however, that’s an entirely different matter and I never did work out a satisfactory method. Some students just ‘get it’ and others, who possibly share some of Aaron’s less agile cognitive processes, just don’t get it and never will.

    The English verb structure is based on the following binary elements:

    Negative/positive
    Past/not past
    Modal/no modal
    Perfect/not perfect
    Progressive/not progressive
    Passive/not passive.

    By switching on and off each element you can create all possible verb forms: I work = present – so there is no past, no negative, no modal, no perfect, no progressive and no passive, all that remains is subject and verb in the present tense (although the full form still has an auxiliary which we will need to use for past and negative forms – I do work).

    By switching these elements on one-by-one we can make the following constructions, not all of which describe actual possible situations for any given verb, depending on the meaning of the verb:

    I work nothing = I work (which is the same as ‘I do work’)
    I work negative = I don’t work
    I work past = I did work
    I work past negative = I didn’t work

    I work modal = I would work
    I work past negative modal = I wouldn’t work

    I work perfect = I have worked
    I work perfect past negative modal = I wouldn’t have worked

    I work progressive = I am working
    I work progressive perfect past negative modal = I wouldn’t have been working

    I work passive = I am worked
    I work passive progressive perfect past negative modal = I wouldn’t have been being worked (yes, honestly, you really can do that and it’s still only one verb).

    Obviously, all the intervening combinations are also possible (e.g present perfect progressive ‘I have been watching’ etc.). The hard part is conceptualizing the logical situations in which such constructions are necessary.

    In the case of the present perfect used as a possessive – this is to KATHY in particular – have is not inherently passive. A passive construction is one in which the auxiliary to be directly precedes a past participle (for example, the book WAS WRITTEN or you ARE BEATEN) have is neither a part of the verb ‘to be’ nor a past participle, ergo the only passive construction ‘have’ can be part of must be a PERFECT PASSIVE construction (with or without modals, negatives, past tenses etc.) since you can use the have to change be into been and then follow that with a past participle, for example, I have been beaten – a present perfect passive construction, however, I have beaten is only ever going to be active because there’s no part of the verb to be in the construction. Indeed Kathy, do you actually know what passive means in this context? It means that the role of subject and object are reversed. That means that the person or object that performs the verb comes after it not before (if it comes at all) and that the person or object that comes before the verb has that verb done to it. Very different from concept behind present perfect which controls the relationship between subject and verb over time, rather than the controlling whether the subject does the verb or has the verb done to it.

    You say: “You either have it or you get it”. “I got it yesterday”. “I have it today.” – Do you seriously mean I can’t get it today and I couldn’t have had it yesterday? That really is bizarre. You’re confusing the verbs’ semantic content (what they mean) with their usage in compound verb forms as or with auxiliaries have can be used as both auxiliary and root verb, whereas ‘get’ cannot be used as an auxiliary. That’s why you can say I had had without Microsoft Word underlining it in red to suggest that you delete the repeated word.

    Are you guys really teaching English?

    The difference between Am and Br is simply that our IRREGULAR verb ‘to get’ has a different past participle to the one he has learnt (that’s different too – he probably thinks he’s learned it).

  24. Rodrigo says:

    Why teach this as a separate subject, when it’s clearly about simple present tense and present perfect tense? The have in have got is not a common verb, as suggested by the first comment. It’s an auxiliary verb, and the very ordinary auxiliary verb for perfect tenses. It doesn’t have a meaning of its own. I can’t understand why you go through all the trouble of teaching negative and flexion in tenses and everything… when it’s just about following the usual, simple rules of verbal tenses, with maybe one or two exceptions.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Divide the class into two groups, half the students are coppers, the other half witnesses. The police officers are given a few minutes to think of questions to ask the witnesses about several notorious suspects. Each witness is given a colour photo of a different suspect (male or female, with beard, moustache, short or long hair…). The witnesses must memorise the photo (younger or lower level students may take notes) and after a few minutes give them back to the teacher. The teacher sticks the pictures (preferably with other similar ones) on the board (with bluetac) at the “police station board”. Then each “copper” must find a “witness” and question them about their “suspect”. With the notes taken (about eye and hair colour, physical traits, etc.) each “police officer” must then go back to the board and try to find the picture fitting the description they got. The winner is the first copper to identify the “suspect” and report to the “chief” (the teacher). The “witness” must confirm identification. Activity takes about 25 minutes (depending on group) My students loved it! As a follow-up, students may invent details / a story about the crime committed by each “suspect”, act out the arrest, etc. You sure can come up with lots of ideas!

  26. Susan says:

    In Canada, we use both I have and I have got. The difference between the two is usually referring to a temporary situation or a permanent one. For example:

    I’ve got some time
    I’ve got 20 dollars
    (temporary)

    I have two brothers
    I have long hair (permanent)

  27. Anonymous says:

    I’ve always thought of this as a Brit/US thing, and it’s strange that people aren’t aware of this. Listen to any Brit speak, and s/he will say have got much more than have.

    Likewise, an American will say both, but will tend to say have more than have got. Certain dialects of AmE will also use the nonstandard I got for I have, but whether this is an abomination or simply a facet of a non-prestige language is another debate.

    It’s also worth noting that Americans very rarely use have got in negative or question forms. I’ve got a car is commonly heard here in the US, but have you got a car? and I haven’t got a car, while easily understood, sound a bit forced and pretentious to American ears.

    Of course, both have and have got are used in the imperative sense, equivalent to “must.” Interestingly, in AmE (not sure about BrE), we seem to use have got in this context when we want to add emphasis, for example: You have GOT to see this movie. You HAVE to see this movie works too, but it just doesn’t sound as forceful. Likewise, you’d almost never hear the negative or question forms of have got used in this context (I don’t have to go to work today is common, whereas I haven’t got to go to work today doesn’t sound quite right to me.

    At the end of the day, both have and have got are acceptable, prescriptivist snobbery notwithstanding. In my experience English learners aren’t really interested in these sorts of BrE / AmE differences (at least at the lower levels), and the exact subtleties of usage can get pretty convoluted. I would just teach them both as equally correct ways of saying the same thing, but make sure to be clear that have got can only be used in the present simple.

  28. Peter says:

    It seems that some of you are of the opinion that have got (to mean have) is just “lazy” and/or “wrong”. Furthermore, it seems that no amount of evidence to the contrary would convince you otherwise. Seriously, please stop spreading misinformation. It’s your goddamn job to teach English as it IS spoken, not as you would have it spoken. English grammar did not come down on freaking stone tablets from heaven. It’s what’s embodied in the actual speech patterns of the people who use English, nothing more. (Side note: Different speech or writing communities have different practices, and there are practical social consequences to following different standards.)

    My personal approach to teaching have got (since that was what the OP was originally requesting) would be to say that it’s just a synonym for the present tense of have. Furthermore, it’s usually realized in the contracted form, as in I’ve got way too much time on my hands. In even more informal contexts, it the “ve” can be elided and you get the (cringeworthy, to my ear) I got way too much time on my hands. I would then point out that the usage is primary oral rather than written, and that in essays or other formal writing, it would be better to use have (lest your essay be drenched in red ink).

    P.S. In my (great-lakes US) dialect, at least, for I’ve got to be the present perfect of get, it would need to be I’ve gotten. Just my 2 cents.

  29. Jane schwartz says:

    Using have got when it means simple ownership is plain lazy. I’VE GOT A CAR vs. I HAVE A CAR….I HAVE A CAR is correct. We have gotten lazy and laziness becomes the norm. I’ve got a car is easier to say than I have a car. Try it, it is true. The incorrect version has been used so often that even grammarians don’t know what the correct usage is any longer. Language evolves, and it often evolves out of constantly repeating an error. “Got milk?” This question is grammatically incorrect. The question actually is Do you have milk? Have you got cheating on your mind? Wrong. Do you have cheating on your mind? Correct. This error has become so commonplace that it has become acceptable. This is sad, really. This goes to show you that anyone can change language by just repeating errors. What happened to rules? Someone has to know how to use grammar correctly, and correct grammar should be used, especially in formal communication between companies and nations. Incorrect usage makes one look really, really silly.

    • John G says:

      Jane — “What happened to rules?”

      Rules DID NOT COME FIRST! Spoken language did not, nor does not, come from or originate from rules. Rules are an afterthought……simply an attempt to codify a given language after it has taken form. The only time the Rule Book can be closed and set in stone is with a dead language (or at least until we find new manuscripts and new usages of dead languages.) As languages evolve, so do rules. Imagine an English Grammar book in 500 years. I personally believe American English will evolve into some form of Spanglish that will dominate the landscape.

      I teach ESL to level 1 adult students attempting to learn to speak and understand English. It is not a linguistic setting or grammar class. It is a class on conversational English. Therefore, I never, never introduce grammar into the equation when teaching have got. Why not? just read this thread!… In addition, it is irrelevant to understanding what your boss is asking you. You gotta work visa?

      I have 2 post graduate degrees with heavy linguistic emphasis. I teach, study and live an academic life. I am anything but lazy… It is NOT Laziness to speak with shortened, grammically incorrect words and sentences. The point is to convey understanding through oral expression…if someone asks me if I have a car, I typically say, Yeah, i gotta car. My SOLE objective being to convey the idea of my personal car ownership. Shortening a thought in verbal communication is not lazy. It is efficient, effective and time-saving. It allows for more time to advance the conversation to new topics. It allows one to sound like a “normal” human being in informal social settings rather than a high-browed, elitist, academic stiff. Or perhaps to demonstrate non-lazy, verbal communication, we should respond, “Yes, I am the owner of an automobile” Problem of have, have got solved!

  30. Marcus Landseer says:

    It is simple as I see it.

    Have is used as a main verb for possession. It is also used as an auxiliary verb in the present perfect.
    Have got is present perfect, because got is (sorry Americans), the commonly used past participle of get in English English. However, sorry to disagree with everyone here, we English also sometimes use gotten as well, and the meaning is slightly divergent…

    Have got is used for acquisition. We can use it to say I’ve got blue eyes, because the idea that we acquired the colour, and the eyes, is charming, and kind of true, we have inherited them from our parents. The same is true for all kinds of instances where possession might seem, at first glance, to better suit the situation, and it may well be that Brits much overuse have got, and that have might often be more elegant.

    Have gotten is used for the lengthy or troublesome acquisition of something.

    I’ve gotten my knickers in a twist.
    He’s gone and gotten himself arrested.
    I’ve never really gotten to the end of Ulysses.

    It’s rare but we use it this way, and have been doing so for quite some time. Search Shakespeare (those of you who say have got is simply wrong and for ‘idiots’, bear in mind you’re calling Shakespeare an idiot), and you will find examples of have, have got, and have gotten, conforming with the usage I have described.

  31. Meghan says:

    I find it difficult to believe that there is an argument over whether have got or have is correct. Both forms are perfectly acceptable! If you’ve never gone outside the US, logically you won’t be as accustomed to hearing or seeing it. I am American teaching English abroad. As a teacher, you should not only recognize that dialects vary around the world (in more than just English), but you should most certainly teach this fact!

    Have got is not a “sloppy” mash-up of two words. It has the same meaning as our have, but it is treated as an irregular verb. Americans tend to use it less and simply do not teach as the correct form in OUR dialect. Saying that it’s wrong is like telling a Brit that saying “at weekends” is incorrect (other countries do not say “on” weekends… or pronounce the letter “Z” as Americans do, for that matter). The fact is that it is not wrong — it is just not what we are used to in this hemisphere.

    Please, to those of you who are calling have got sloppy or incorrect, before you make up your mind on the subject, please do a bit of traveling (or travelling, in British English).

  32. Steed says:

    I’ve got a degree. I have it, I earned it, I achieved it.

    I have long legs. I did nothing to get them, they are an innate part of my physiognomy.

    He’s got lots of money. He either earned it or inherited it, nobody has a fat wallet on their person as they are expelled from the womb.

    He has a nice personality. which would appear to be an intrinsic characteristic.

    To get – to obtain, to achieve
    To have – a verb of general possession

  33. JaneCaro says:

    Interesting thread – I vaguely remember my old English teacher years ago wrinkling her nose disapprovingly at the use of have got in writing, but these days just about everybody I know uses this form – and it is formally taught in all French schools to indicate possession I’ve got blue eyes, a brother, a big house etc. The older English form of the past participle, gotten, once used in ‘English’ English, now appears to be almost exclusively used by speakers of American English, but I stand to be corrected! In my opinion, if enough people consistently use a certain way of speaking, this eventually validates it – even if it causes the purists amongst us to shudder. Witness the more colourful additions to the dictionary every year.

  34. Mid says:

    In all school books (for non-native speakers who want to learn British English), it is stated that we should use have got for possessions. Personally, I prefer have – a lot of people use it and for me it’s easier to pronounce. So in my view, discussion about which is better, more proper, etc, is pointless. We can use have got and have – both are popular and correct, and both should be taught in schools.

  35. Daniel Tills says:

    As it has been argued back and forth that both are apparently ‘correct’, I won’t comment on that. It’s becoming (getting?) BORING to find out which is technically correct – which is what I came to this page to discover. I actually can’t believe that there is no definitive answer in terms of a teaching rule (irrespective of everyday / common usage – which as we have heard, varies from location to location and class to class and education level to education level!).

    What I will say though, is regarding REDUNDANCY. Surely the point is to be able to convey a message or meaning as economically and efficiently as possible (unless of course you purposefully want to add breadth and depth to your language for literary/poetic effect). Therefore ‘got’ is redundant. It adds nothing to the overall meaning, so get rid of it. Trim the fat – like you would an infected appendix. Americans seem to be more likely to do this trimming…

    For a non-English speaker learning English for the first time, surely it is easier / more straightforward for them learn ‘I have’ rather than ‘I have got’ (which opens up a whole complicated can of worms regarding mashed-up tenses and irregularities etc.)?

    As an British/English native myself, I much prefer SAYING the (apparently) more ‘American’ ‘I have…’. To me, it sounds better.

    For WRITTEN purposes, ‘I have got a/some + noun’ looks plain wrong and clumsy, so I also prefer to write ‘I have…’

    It would be useful to know if students are penalised one way or the other for these alternative usages – because to win the game, it helps to know how to play the game! I bet this varies from place to place, examiner to examiner!

    Ultimately, I think it’s important to inform your students that both versions are commonly and widely used (and therefore acceptable) and that they should use whichever feels more comfortable to them. Students need to be aware that both are used – because they WILL encounter them both!

    Question: Is it more polite to reply to someone’s question using the same form, for example:

    Do you have a car?
    Yes I have a car (or) No, I don’t have a car

    Have you got a car?
    Yes, I’ve got a car (or) No, I haven’t got a car.

    Would you mix them? Thoughts anyone?

    End note: ‘I have got to (do something)’ is surely an entirely different use of language relating to necessity/imperative/must?

  36. Stephen Finn says:

    Discussion of “correct” and “incorrect” grammar seems a bit out of place in ESL, whose task is surely to copy usage, not to dictate it. However you may feel about the elegance or otherwise of “have got” versus “have”, it’s maybe worth noting that the former produces more understandable spoken English, as Gs are difficult to slur. Compare the relative intelligibility of “We’ve no fuel left” and “We’ve got no fuel left”. Could be a lifesaver.

  37. Xavier says:

    whoa, I am a non native speaker, and really amused reading all these comments about yes u can or no u can’t. Why is it wrong or why isn’t it wrong to use it… every teacher has a different opinion if u should or shouldn’t use it. Americans say “have” English say “have got”, both correct i guess in speaking, just use the one you like, that’s all, no one is a moron for using one or the other, it is up to you. The funny part is that some people here think that English is the wrong one to use. I have been living in UK for 25 years and no one told me it was wrong and I have spent time in America too and no one told me i was saying it wrong either.

Add your teaching idea

Your email address will not be published.