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Is there not a redundancy in the use of “got” with “have”?
Why say “I have got” or “I’ve got” when “I have” conveys the exact meaning?
The same would be true of its use in the second or third person.
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"redundant" does not mean "incorrect".
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage says "Have will do perfectly well in writing that avoids the natural rhythms of speech. But in speech, or prose that resembles speech, you will probably want have got."
The answer to your question is yes and no. There are instances where "I have" and I have got" mean the same thing. For example: I have/got to go. In other cases there is a slight distinction: I have a rash versus I have got a rash. There is a slight change in tense, but not an exact one.
The word "got" has a bad rep. It should not. Use it.
Does it make any difference if a try to use it this way?
I've got a car.
First, I suggest you do a little experiment. Say 'I have a car' and then 'I've got a car', and notice how your mouth moves. The second is more efficient (we don't have to open wide for the 'a' sound in have, everything goes smoothly forward). I suspect, but have no scientific evidence to back this up, that very often when we have a choice, between 'which' or 'that' for example, we go for the one which involves the least mouth movement. I imagine that this was the origin of many irregular forms.
Second, I confess I cannot understand this current obsession with redundancy. Why can't people simply enjoy using the language we all speak, and the choices we have in formulating it, without constantly looking for so-called errors. Most of us use redundancy the whole time in spoken language. So what!
@Sharm - not in BrE at least, where 'I've got a car' means 'I possess a car', whereas 'I've just got a car' means 'I've just obtained a car'. Both Oxford and Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionaries list 'have got' under 'have', not 'get'. They also say that this use for possession is mainly in BrE.
@dogreed - again in BrE 'I have a rash' means exactly the same as 'I have got a rash' - 'have got' is simply an alternative present tense of 'have' (Shaw - Practical English Usage)
@goofy - spot on, as usual.
Just a thought: .
I have an ice cream cone = emphasis on possession onlyI have got an ice cream cone = communicates that there was a transaction
The English language (as with pretty much any language) is filled with examples of multiple ways of expressing the same idea. I don't consider that redundancy.
The "have" and "got" in "have got" are also not redundant, because the "have" is an auxiliary verb, while the "got" is a participle.
first look up the definition of "got", notice it is past tense."I have a car" is present tense"I got a car" is a past tense sentence (and you may no longer have that car)have (present tense) and got (past tense) do not belong next to each otherperiod
Jim: I'm not sure about your logic.What about "I have a car" (present) and "I bought a car" (past)? You can certainly say "I have bought a car". As cnelsonrepublic says, "have" is an auxiliary verb.
In short, "have got" is perfectly good English.
"He's very lucky really. He's got a wonderful family and they've got a lovely old house in the country, which his family have had for centuries. The house has also got a huge garden, which needs a lot of attention."
"Luckily he's got a good job to pay for all the upkeep. But sometimes the pressure can be a bit much. His company's got an important contract which has to be finalised this week, so they've got a lot of work on. This afternoon alone he's got three client meetings. He also had three yesterday and will probably have a couple more tomorrow. But at least he's got the weekend free"
It's not rocket science. My EFL students can handle it easily enough. 'have got' = alternative present tense of 'have' for possession - no more, no less. (Notice past, future and perfect forms all use simple 'have') This usage for possession is probably more common in the UK than simple 'have'. It's natural Standard English - just check a dictionary (BrE are likely to have more about it. See comment above), but @Jim, please look under 'have got', not 'got', which is something completely different. 'I got a car' (get) is a red herring; it has nothing to do with 'I've got a car' (have got), full stop.
Wow! everyone is so sure of themselves on here! FULL STOP indeed!
I think the most that can be said against "have got" is that it's redundant. It is not expressing anything unique about the reality of "having' a noun.
"I have a car" "I have got a car"
The second sentence doesn't sound very elegant, but most take little issue with "I've got a car"
Notice how it sounds more reasonable than
"I've a car"
You really have to put emphasis on the contraction (when speaking) to make it sound correct to the listener. In fact, I wonder if American English speakers would hear this as anything other than someone trying to be pretentious.
So perhaps not a FULL STOP, but more of a ellipse?
Jim, of course "have" and "got" belong next to each other. "got" is the past tense, but it's also a past participle.
About the meaning difference between "have" and "have got", Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage notes that for many Americans, "have got" denotes mere possession, but "have" denotes obtaining.
@Jackbox - my 'full stop' was meant to be an ironic reply to @Jim's 'period'. Well yes, I am relatively sure of myself because I've been teaching English for ten years, and I also checked out my facts fairly carefully before commenting, see references above. (swa.randomidea).
I agree with the gist of your argument, but would just add that for us Brits, the ' have got' is the more usual construction. As for whether it's redundant or not, is of supreme indifference to me (as you could see just then), it's the way most of us speak. Unless of course I was writing for the New Yorker, but that's not going to happen.
In case I’m wrong I took your advice and looked up “have got”. Problem is it isn’t in my Webster’s Collegiate or the online Merriam–Webster.com but both references define got as past and past participle of get. (notice either way,it is past tense) If you know of a legitimate reference that goes further, let me know. Until then, how you stretch "got" to mean present tense possession is beyond me. And please don’t use the excuse that it’s normal communication, with that reasoning "they’re" and "there" will soon be synonymous.
At the very least, all “have got” is is four more keys typed with no change in meaning.
thanks for the debate everyone
@Jim - Hi. I think this is mainly British usage, which is why you might not find it in US dictionaries (but you will find it if you google it) . So here's a couple (or four) -
And from ESL and grammar websiteshttp://esl.about.com/cs/beginner/a/beg_havegot.htmhttp://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/have-got-grammar.aspxhttp://www.eslbase.com/grammar/have-gothttp://www.better-english.com/havegot.htm (quiz with examples)
See, it really isn't a figment of my imagination.
Note to administrator -this is not entering my name, but part of my email address instead.
@Jim - I've sent 4 dictionary references as well as some grammar website references, but they're being held over for approval (too many URLs). In the meantime if you google 'have got', the first two entries are About.com and GrammarGirl - they will give you an American perspective while the other references are being approved.
You are all pulling at hairs. The simple answer is that "I have" is more commonly used in written English and "I've got" is more commonly used in spoken English. Both are acceptable forms and there is no grammatical explanation for a preference in either usage. Get a grip all of you.
- EFL/TESL teacher with 20 years experience in 7 countries -
ps Jim Scrivener is my bitch rofl
Ah, the two types of responders on comments boards: the curious arguer and the heroic, mensch who comes to save the day with "common sense' folksy wisdom! Thank you! Did John Lennon write "Working Class Hero" for you?
Look, I am sure we can all the play the game of who has the biggest credentials, the point is, this is a forum (at least I thought it was!) for people do discuss the vagaries of English usage. From on high you say "get a grip," but that suggests that language is somehow not open to friendly discussion about it's inconsistencies. I for one have found the chat (up until you chimed with your massive, engorged TESL creds) to be enlightening. Perhaps civility isn't the hallmark of the board? You sound EXACTLY like the respondents at Youtube or a hockey board.
Thank you all! I for one am thrilled to hear that I may continue to use "I've got" with relative impunity. As a Canadian raised in the US, I think I may be stuck somewhere between British and American usage on some of these topics. I agree with those who find more humor than horror in regional usages of expressions, but it wasn't always that way! This site is a revelation.
Everyone's pretty much said it. In written stuff, it's redundant, somewhat informal, etc., and probably not recommended usage.
But in speech, it's ordinary, common idiom, nothing to worry about. Oddly, until now, I'd assumed it was Southern, cuz that's where I stay. :)
I think "have got" implies there is/was/will be an action of some sort on the speaker's part. Using "have" does not imply that (dependent on other things said).
"Is there not a redundancy in the use of 'got' with 'have'?"
No. Otherwise the speaker would not have used it.
"And please don’t use the excuse that it’s normal communication, with that reasoning 'they’re' and 'there' will soon be synonymous.
They'll never be synonymous no matter how you spell them.
Perhaps you meant homographic?
Scyllacat:"But in speech, it's ordinary, common idiom, nothing to worry about."I totally agree. I live in New Zealand but am originally from the UK. In both countries you frequently hear "I've got", which is (in my opinion) completely interchangeable with "I have".
Jim:"At the very least, all “have got” is is four more keys typed with no change in meaning."I don't buy this argument. For instance there exist in English the words "huge", "massive", "gigantic", "enormous" and "colossal". They all basically mean the same thing, namely "very big". Would you suggest we only ever use "huge" because it's shorter than the alternatives? In English there are often many ways of expressing the same concept; I think that's a good thing.
milamber, I appreciate and applaud your credentials; however in my 29 years in my own profession one thing I’ve learned is that it’s hard to find someone who knows everything about their profession. Should you know? Yes, but that’s not a guarantee.
JJMBallantyne, “there and they’re (I should have included their)” synonymous or homographic? Maybe homographic would be better, maybe not. I’m mainly suggesting the words are interchanged so often (by those that don’t seem to know the definitions) that their distinction is lost.
Chris B, does that mean that you couldn’t stack “huge", "massive", "gigantic", "very big", "enormous" and "colossal" in some order of increasing size and that they mean exactly the same? IE might you consider an enormous mountain to be different size than a very big mountain?
I believe that if you polled a lot of people, and asked the definition of got (not have got) they would say something similar to “have”, and that’s my issue, the distinction between have and got doesn’t exist to a significant % of the population.
But, apparently I’m alone on this side of the fence and the rest of the world is not only ok with “I’ve got” you’re downright in love with its use and mad that I suggest its might incorrect. I guess I’ll need (oops, my mistake) I guess I’ve got to be ok with ads like “Got Milk?” and its derivatives like a shirt I recently saw printed “Got CPR?”
Well I have got to go now, I have got to work on a project that I have got.
I wonder if it would have been more proper or at least clearer to have said“Well I need to go now, I want to work on a project that I have.”But that’s just me I ‘sposeBye all, it been fun
First of all: I made a mistake in my earlier post. "Have got" denotes possession, but "have gotten" denotes obtaining (for many Americans).
Next, Jim, I did give you a "legitimate references that goes further": Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. Here's the entry: http://books.google.com/books?id=2yJusP0vrdgC&lpg=PP1&dq=merriam-websters%20dictionary%20of%20english%20usage&pg=PA498#v=onepage&q=have%20got&f=false
You complained that "got" has been stretched to mean present tense possession. It's not much of a stretch to use the present perfect to refer to actions in the present. The fact is that it *is* normal English, and how else can we judge what is acceptable English other than by looking at how good writers use English? And "have got" has been used by good writers, including Austen, Byron and Carroll. It's worth noting that they used it in corresponce, which is why MWDEU says it is more suited to speech and speech-like prose than formal writing.
goofy is right! For more information on the conjugation of the verb "to get" see http://conjugator.reverso.net/conjugation-english-verb-get.htmlWhen using the present perfect tense the writer is emphsizing the present effect of an action which happened in the past.
Jim: "I’m mainly suggesting the words are interchanged so often (by those that don’t seem to know the definitions) that their distinction is lost."
Presumably by "interchanged" you simply meant misspelled. I seriously doubt that the distinction between the meanings of "they're" and "there" is lost, even on the most illiterate writer.
I have = AmericanismI've got = Britishism
That's truly the difference, I promise.
I did not expect so much debate on this.My own feeling is that "I have" is a bit more elegant than "I have got". I was not aware that either form had a geographic bias.I would also take issue with any suggestion as to nuances of tense.Finally, got is the past tense of get, which the OED defines in a number of ways, all of which basically mean to "acquire" or "take possession of" etc etc.So "I got" would mean "I acquired" not "I possess".
I agree hairyscot.
It's actually a regional thing. I'm an American moving to London next year, so I've been studying the differences between the way Brits and Americans speak (watching Doctor Who and Sherlock help a ton, haha, but also speaking to them online so as not to make a silly mistake and embarrass myself with something they only do on the "telly") and I've noticed this. Americans more often say, for instance, "I have a meeting this afternoon." wherefore Englishmen will say, "I've got a meeting this afternoon." It's one of the many things I've noticed, alongside a Brit's way of asking a question, "Have you got a meeting this afternoon?" When an Americsn would say, "Do you have a meeting this afternoon?"Not only that, but the tone of voice in general is different, I don't know how to explain it through text but there is a clear difference between where people in Britain and people in the US will stress words to ask a question, the British version sounding more like a statement than a question.
It's all veeery interesting to me. :) I'm excited to go to England and pick up more.
There is the past-present tense difference,
-- oops. Haha.There is the past-present tense difference, but it's really just where you're from, they can and usually do mean the same thing.
Jim (above) says: In case I’m wrong I took your advice and looked up “have got”. Problem is it isn’t in my Webster’s Collegiate or the online Merriam–Webster.com but both references define got as past and past participle of get. (notice either way,it is past tense) If you know of a legitimate reference that goes further, let me know. Until then, how you stretch "got" to mean present tense possession is beyond me.
It is a present tense - it's called the present perfect tense. As tenses go this does not travel well. It exists in German, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian, among others, and is used differently in each. In old German it was the same as in British English but now is used to mean the same as the past tense. In the south of Italy it is the same as in British English but it refers only to the recent past in the north. In Spanish is is often similar to the English but is largely disused outside Spain. The same with Portuguese. In English it is used the same way in the UK and in most other parts of the English-speaking world except that in the USA its use decreases as you move form the east coast to the west. Many, if not most, Americans are confused by the tense and do not use it consistently - in fact many are very weak when it comes to perfect tenses, possibly due to high levels of immigration and the strong influence of the large number of early German settlers. On 'Judge Judy' for example witnesses habitually use the past perfect tense 'I had gone' as a kind of formal simple past tense to mean 'I went.'
The present perfect has a number of wrinkles but a simple explanation is to say:
I have seen the light of the lord = (past statement) I saw the light of the lord at some undefined point in the past AND (present implication) the information in the past statement has some significance for the present and I invite you to think what it is.
So: I have got = I got something in the past so I have it now.
Longwinded, perhaps, but there you are.
Remember in American English the verb goes 'get got gotten' but in the UK this old form has been dropped and the verb is 'get got got.'
Ok, this really shouldn't be all that hard to understand. While both words have more than one meaning, let's compare "to have" meaning "to possess", with "to get", meaning "to receive". "Got" is the simple past tense and as mentioned above, "have got" is the present perfect.
The present perfect is used to describe past events that happened at an unspecified time. E.g., "I have eaten breakfast already." is ok, but not "I have eaten breakfast at 9AM." It should be "I ate breakfast at 9AM."
When you say "I have got" something, it means that some time in the past, you received it. At one time you didn't have it, then at some later time, you did. There's nothing wrong, grammatically or semantically, with such an assertion.
When you say "I have" something, it means that you are in possession of it, nothing more and nothing less. There's nothing wrong with this either.
Now follow me on this: anything that you currently have, you must have got at some time or another. Even if you were born with a particular trait, you still received it at the moment of your creation (reincarnation notwithstanding). Conversely, everything you have got, you still have, unless of course, you've disposed of it somehow (in which case, you'd probably say "had got").
So, "I have" and "I have got" do not actually mean the same thing, but anything you can say one about, you can just as readily say the other about. They can be used interchangeably. Both are correct, but still different. Do people often say one when they really mean the other? Probably, but it really doesn't matter if they are logically equivalent.
@PorscheHow about "I have to go" vs "I have got to go"?or "I have to have an operation" vs "I have got to have an operation"?
I still think "I have a lovely bunch of coconuts" sounds so much better than "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts"
@PorscheWhat utter balderdash!
New Reader:Porsche's comments on the English language are normally exceptionally good, but unfortunately I have to agree with you here.
In the UK (where I was brought up) and NZ (where I live now), "I have" and "I have got" mean precisely the same thing. It's no more complicated than that. You can say "I've got ten toes" even though you've always had them.
Perhaps in America the situation is different.
&Chris BI agree. Porsche's comments are normally worth reading, but I think he is a bit off the mark in this case.
It's complicated tu use HAVE GOT and I don´t know why British grammar try to make our lives difficult. I am more familiar with the America way.
It's complicated tu use HAVE GOT and I don´t know why British grammar tries to make our lives difficult. I am more familiar with the America way.
Well what about I have 2 ears. I would say this yet in.an English exam in.Spain, my.son was told it should be I have got 2 ears, a sentence I would take.to.meamn i have at some pont acquired 2 ears and not at all grammatically correct.
@joeydqI agree with you.The example you quote shows that some of the explanations given in justification of the use of "have got" are utter nonsense.Furthermore, why use 2 words when one will do the job better.
I explained to his teacher that have got is used colloquially to mean possession, but its usual meaning is to acquire. Therefore, I have got 2 bananas is fine in speech or as written conversation, although I have 2 bananas expresses the same thing in less words and is more true to the English language, but I have got 2 ears can never be correct, unless you have just bought said ears. In this context, I have got 2 ears implies that at some point you have acquired said ears rather than being.born with them. So, there are some scenarios where I have got just will not do.
@Chris B ... I think someone upthread said it but I'll say it again since it seems to be what is befuddling folks.
In the US, one HEARS "I'v got" for "I have", and "I'v got to" or "I got to" (gotta) for "I must/I have to". Oddly, yu won't find it written out much that way ... at least not beyond chats and maybe some forums. Folks often switch to "I have" when writing and benote "gotten" as the ppl.
What yu don't hear (much) in the US, is "I have got" for "I have". In speech, the contraction is said. I think is owing to "I'v got" and "I got" are so near in sound and often, in context, mean the same thing. ...
John often forgets a book and leaves it in the house. In the car, Mom says, "Do yu hav yur book?" ... "Yes, I'v got it." ... He could hav as eathly said, "I got it" meaning that he got it on the way out.
It helps that "gotten" is still brooked in the US. Then it becomes clearer. "Hav yu gotten the book that yu ordered?" ... If yu say "Hav yu got?" then its unclear whether yu asking "Do yu hav it?" or "Did yu get it?"
@joeydq ... I think yu'r right. I would never teach "I have got" aside from being a colloquialism that the learner needs to be aware of.
I still believe that the "got" is unnecessary since "I have" in itself denotes possession or the need to do something whether or not used with "got".And as I said back in May, I would also take issue with any suggestion as to nuances of tense.@AnwulfJohn could also have said "Yes, I have it", or maybe even "Yes, mum".
lmao lmao grow up GOT GOT GOT GOT GOT GOT GOT ps im glad that whoever made this site is the king of grammer and created the english language to be able to tell us all the way that we can use it. psps GOT it?
hahaha unbelievable, I still believe that the "got" is unnecessary since "I have" in itself denotes possession or the need to do something whether or not used with "got".And as I said back in May, I would also take issue with any suggestion as to nuances of tense.@AnwulfJohn could also have said "Yes, I have it", or maybe even "Yes, mum". WOW hairy scot has been arguing over the word got since back in may < brother your fight really has changed the world, seriously i hear got maybe 3 time less a day now ur amazin> Now lets switch over to the word Aint and keep that arguement goin till december next year!
porsche (above) says: 'The present perfect is used to describe past events that happened at an unspecified time. E.g., "I have eaten breakfast already." is ok, but not "I have eaten breakfast at 9AM." It should be "I ate breakfast at 9AM."'
This is definitely what the present perfect does not do! It is a present tense, about the present. "I have eaten breakfast already" has implications for the present - ' I don't need to eat breakfast again' or' I'm not hungry.' "I ate breakfast at 9AM" has no implications for the present - it is simply a record of when things happened.
American speakers of English often confuse the present perfect and the simple past. Fore example, and American teacher may ask 'Did you do your homework?" which is ungrammatical and technically meaningless, instead of "Have you done your homework?" which has present implication.
It is worth noting that the simple past may be used with present implication - "We (Chinese) invented fireworks." The present implication is that the Chinese are important people with great cultural depth. This si a world away from "The Chinese have invented fireworks" which is not grammatically correct given what we know about fireworks.
@HairyScot - I totally agree with you that 'I've got' has exactly the same meaning as 'I have' (and that's where you'll find it in the dictionary) and that porsche has got it wrong here.
But 'I've got' is mainly used in informal spoken English, where we don't usually worry about redundancy. In fact many linguists say that redundancy actually helps comprehension in spoken language . And I still argue that 'I've got a new car' is easier to say then 'I have a new car' - it involves less mouth movement. In spoken English 'have got' is simply more natural (as MWDEU says - link below).
You could use exactly the same argument about 'Ive got to', and 'I have to' - but I imagine there is an equally good reason why we often say 'I've got to'.
What is more important? Worrying about a little harmless redundancy, or using good old idiomatic English? It was good enough for Jane Austen, Lord Byron and Lewis Carroll after all.
@Hairy Scot ... I don't think anyone disagrees that "I hav" is good and proper. What I'v found is that most folks will answer in the same way the frain was asked ... "Do you hav the book?" will likely be answered with "Yes, I hav it or yes, I do." OTOH, "You'v got the book? ... Yea, I'v got it." As I said before, benoting "gotten" helps to clear up whether one means "have" or "received".
@blazey ... What are yu smokin'? "Did you do your homework?" is not "ungrammatical" nor is it any less clear than "Have you done your homework?"
I've got the world on a string, sitting on a rainbow
I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts.
I've got a golden ticket!
Today,they have got a modern lap top computer. (Tomorrow)
This question has been around for a long time. Let me quote from 'The Complete Plain Words' by Sir Ernest Gowers:'Have got', for 'possess' or 'have', says Fowler, is good colloquial but not good literary English. Others have been more lenient. Dr. Johnson said: 'He has good a good estate' does not always mean that he has acquired, but barely that he possesses it. So we say that ' the lady has got black eyes', merely meaning that she has them.When such high authorities differ, (Gowers continues) what is a plain man to think? If it is true that superfluous words are an evil, we ought to condemn ' the lady has got black eyes' but not 'the lady has got a black eye'. Still, writing for those whose prose inclines more to primness than to colloquialisms, and who are not likely to overdo the use of 'got', we advise them not to be afraid of it.
@Thomas Smith - I teach foreign students and have never come across "Enjoy English", but I can assure you that all the major British course books still teach both forms. And I have never, ever seen students taught that "have got" is the Present perfect of "get", because it has very little to do with "get". It's an idiomatic alternative to "have" for possession. That's why you'll find it listed in learner's dictionaries under "have" rather than under "get".
In fact if your Present perfect theory is correct, how do you explain "have got to" - the Present perfect of "get to"? It just doesn't work.
In fact it's my impression that we (in BrE at least) very rarely use the standard verb "get" in the Present perfect, without adding something - "I've just got myself a new car" suggests that you have indeed "obtained, bought, stolen" one, whereas "I've got a new car" simply tell us that you have one.
You're right that we can't use this construction in the past or future (which rather proves it's nothing to do with perfect aspect), but you rather confuse the issue by bringing in "obtain, buy, steal" etc, which are all connected with the verb "get", which is pretty irrelevant. "Have got" is simply an idiomatic version of "have" for possession, no more, no less. So the future simple is "will have", the past simple is "had", period.
@Skeeter Lewis - What is a plain man to think? Probably what most of us do (in Britain, at any rate), which is to use "have got" in conversation and informal correspondence, and "have" in more formal circumstances. (see my link to MWDEU)
@Skeeter Lewis - Here's a thought: use "I've got" etc when you would use other contractions - "I'm", "he's", "they'd" etc, but use "I have" etc when you would normally use uncontracted forms.
I've always just used "have got" when I've wanted to emphasize something. Funny, though, I hadn't ever used it until I heard someone else use it to stress something. When I'm up too late and have to be up early I would say, "I have GOT to get to bed." It may be wrong, but I definitely feel that stronger than, "I have(or need) to go to bed." My point is, I don't care if it's wrong or not. If it gets my feeling across, I will say it until I die. I find it interesting that I did pick it up from someone else though, but I enjoy it. :)
Oh, I wanted to add that I made my way to this site googling(is that a word now?) "have got." I was playing the card game Uno with some family during a get together. It was two other adults, myself, and two children. I made a comment that went something like, "I've got all the same color," meaning the cards. Well, one of the other adults attacked me for saying, "I got." I explained they misheard me and that I actually said "I've got," which led to them blasting me about the correct way being "I have." I'm pretty sure it was to set an example in front of the children, but I was so annoyed. It's not like I was writing a masters thesis or something.
"I have" would be used primarily in the instance where you have had something for quite sometime. "I have a blue car," "I have brown hair," "I have black shoes," or "I have a nice, furry jacket." Obviously, these examples are of subjects that the individual has had in their possetion for a long period of time. "I got," on the other hand, should be used for things an individual recently obtained. "I got a new shirt," "I got paid yesterday," "I got a cup of coffee," or "I got a cool hat" are many examples of something that you could have GOT recently.
@joelackey92 - to back up Thomas Smith, there is absolutely no difference in meaning between "She has brown hair" and "She's got brown hair". "Have got" is simply an idiomatic version of "have" for possession. But you seem to have got a bit confused about the difference between "I've got" and "I got". This thread is about "have got". Nobody's questioning that "I got" is the past of "get", although I do question whether "I got" has to have any sense of happening recently.
I'm not quite sure why it is that foreign learners get the hang of "have got" quite early on, but some native speakers don't seem to be able to get their heads around it at all (I also teach English) . Actually I think I do know the answer; people think it somehow has something to do with "get" as in "obtain, acquire, buy" etc. It hasn't, full stop, period (at least not in this idiomatic use). Yes, that's how it probably started, but it hasn't had that meaning for centuries. That's why it's listed in dictionaries under "have", not "get".
''have [verb] - (In some senses have got is also used, especially in British English.) - 1. (also have got) have something (not used in the progressive tenses) to own, hold or possess something" - Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
"She's got naturally wavy hair and she's got a friendly disposition." - she didn't acquire these, recently or otherwise; they are in her genes.
As Tom says, in Britain "have got" is the standard way of talking about possession in spoken English. In more formal language, especially written language, we use "have".
But your example "I got a new hat" is not the same as "I've got a new hat". In the first sentence "got" is indeed the past of "get", but in the second, "have got" is idiomatic for "have". And there's no reason why "got" as the past simple of "get" has to be about the recent past anyway. - "Mrs Thatcher got her degree in chemistry in 1947."
It's interesting that when we really do want to use "have got" as the present perfect of "get", ie, to mean "obtain, acquire, buy" etc", we often add something else, like "just" or "myself", to make the meaning clear. - "Hey, I've just got myself a new tablet!"
And with your example of "I got paid yesterday", you are into a different use of "got" altogether, as a sort of less formal passive. "I got paid yesterday" = "I was paid yesterday". But there's no reason why this should be about the recent past either. - "As a teenager, he once got arrested for stealing cars".
I'd have thought this one would have petered out by now, 22 months and still going strong!
Redundant or not, the use of "got" is certainly not incorrect, but I still feel that in a number of contexts it is somewhat inelegant.
Compare these:-"he once got arrested" "he was once arrested""I've got to go" "I must go""I have got a car" (or even "I've got a car") "I have a car"(or even "I've a car")"I've got a good mind to..." "I've a good mind to..""You've got no right" "You have (you've) no right"
I could go on ad infinitum, but I must go.
@Hairy Scot - Yes, when we want to be more formal or use more elegant language, we use "have", "have to" and standard passive, but in British English, most of us prefer to use good old-fashioned idiomatic "have got" for possession and "have got to" for obligation in normal conversational English. And we can only do so in the present; for everything else we also need to use "have" and "have to".
The same with passive "got": this is an informal construction. But informal is what we use most of the time. As one linguist has put it, "informal is normal". And informal is often also friendlier sounding. I teach students to put in contractions when they are writing informal emails, for example, as uncontracted forms can sound rather stiff. It's a matter of horses for courses.
One or two points about your examples - "have got" is almost always contracted, and "have" is much less so. Which is one of many reasons I don't go for the redundancy argument.
"Must" is not exactly equivalent to "have got to" - it conveys more of a sense of urgency or personal obligation, and the negative "mustn't" is certainly not the same as "haven't got to". That's a really important point when teaching foreigners. But "have to" has exactly the same meaning as "have got to" and their negatives correspond. "Have got to" is simply idiomatic for "have to".
But your last two examples are rather interesting: I think these cases of contracted "have" are perhaps as equally as idiomatic as the "have got" versions, or perhaps even more so. But I think this only happens occasionally.
@Tom - I bet that's not a British course book publisher.
While I do strive to avoid the use of "I have got" or even "I've got", I must admit that I do occasionally slip up!
Just goes to show that nobody's perfect.
Re teaching English as a "second" language:Today the need often for business or academic English - emails and essays - and some of the course books are beginning to show this. This means that much less weight may be given to "I've got (to)" - "oh many Brits use this instead of 'i have' " ... and move on quickly instead of making a huge fuss about it like before.In the same way harping on about the nuances between "must" and "have to" is fruitless - there are far more useful things to be aware of; a wide word-stock is wont to make for better understanding on both sides in real life, IMHO of course.
Just as a point of interest: the use of "must" instead of "have to" or "should" is very common in South African English, especially with those who speak both English and Afrikaans.Probably due in some respects to translation from Afrikaans.Phrases like "you must see this" or "you must come visit" are much more common than the "have to" or "should" variety.
@HS - Why on earth anyone would want to avoid perfectly good idiomatic English is beyond me, but I suppose it was a joke. Your examples of "must "from South Africa, by the way, are just how "must" is also used in the UK, to show strong or personal advice. But "have got to" and "have to" are more about general obligation, for example to talk about rules and regular obligation.
@jayles - re: emails - most internal emails are written in relatively informal language, so contractions and constructions like "have got (to)" are entirely appropriate.
I presume I'm the one who's "harping on" about the difference between "must" and "have to", so here's one reason why (redundancy be damned): I teach in companies in Poland, and the main Polish verb of obligation is "musieć", which I think you'll agree looks rather like "must", only "nie musieć" doesn't mean "mustn't" but "don't have to". That hardly sounds like a nuance to me. If you think "I must travel to work every day by tram and when I arrive I must sign the attendance register." is natural English, fine, but what about "I don't must wear a tie at work. Yesterday I musted to entertain a new client and tomorrow I'll must go on a business trip"? Nuances? Pah! Most teachers feel a responsibility to their students to teach them English that is both grammatical and natural.
What's more British course books don't "make a huge fuss" about "have got to", they simply let foreign students know that British native speakers will often use this. Many of my students communicate with British colleagues (or Germans who speak English very well), and they have to be aware of these things if they are to understand them. But the students are free to use whichever version they like.
A wide range of vocabulary is great, but not a lot of good if you don't know how to string the words together. Similarly being perfect in grammar is useless without a good vocabulary and a relative fluency in speaking. In fact in TEFL we don't spend huge amounts of time on grammar; it's totally integrated with all the other aspects we need to teach.
There was a wee clue in the bottom left hand corner, but I guess you must have missed it.
Maybe Dyske can incorporate smilies when he has a spare weekend.
:-)) :-)) :-)) :-))
@WW you're quite right - "don't have to" vs "must not" is vital.I was thinking more of how some of the old (Headway?) books used to harp on about the between "I have to go" and "I must go".....Yes if there is an L1 false friend one would of course have to deal with it - horses for courses."I presume I'm the one who's "harping on" .. " - no , nie jest obraził (obrażony)
Even in internal company emails it pays to err on the formal side - esp if emailing the boss. Formal English is the real struggle.
@jayles - OK, we can agree on something, at least. In some contexts, there is very little difference between "have to" and "must", and your example is a good one. But there are some essential grammar points we have to make about when you can and can't use each construction. I teach mainly Upper-intermediate to Proficiency students, and at this level, we really do have to go into some detail. Students want to know.
Interestingly, in Poland, formal English is not the problem, as the use of Polish in business is relatively formal. What's more, words in Polish that are similar to English tend to be from Latin and their equivalents in English are rather formal; it's getting them to be less formal that's the problem. For example, they are much more likely to say "I have observed" than it's more natural equivalent "I've noticed". Informal often sounds more natural and friendly and less stuffy; informal = normal.
I've just noticed (or even observed that) it's -11 C outside!
I noticed when I worked in Germany in the seventies that the majority of my German friends and colleagues very rarely used any contractions when speaking English."I will" or "I shall" was much more common than "I'll".
"it's -11 C outside!" I wouldn't have missed my time in Eastern Europe not for all the tea in China. Boots and fur-lined leather coat. Just memories.
I've to say I would do just what I did at the beginning of this sentence rather than say "I have to say", or "I have got to say". Contractions are used for expedience, so go for the most efficient form that doesn't confuse.
Know the rules so you can manipulate them.
@Curious indeed - you might, but it would seem that not so many others would:
"I've to say" - Google hits - 3 million"I've got to say" - Google hits - 62 million"I have to say" - Google hits - 92 milion
The truth is that not many people contract "I have" to "I've", and it doesn't sound very natural to me. "I've got", on the other hand, does.
@Curious indeed - that should read - not many people contract "I have to" to "I've to" ... "I've got to". With simple "have" I grant that it happens much more often: "Hey, I've an idea.", "I've a good mind to ..." etc.
Now I understand why my friend in college told me that I spoke like a Brit without the accent. It's never been unusual for me to use "have got", fully, in speech. =) Being a Philadelphian, I guess I should have spoken like this... "Yo, I gotta get some wooder from the crick. Yous need any?"
2 years of wasted time just use it the way you like
I am an American volunteering abroad to teach english as a foreign language in a country with a British curriculum so this issue comes up. There is a difference, but it is usually trivial. However, as with all trivial differences to a skilled practitioner of language it can be exploited to great effect. The "Got Milk?" advertising campaign example shows that got is often used in the context of acquiring. "Have Milk?" would sound ridiculous because there would be no reference anywhere to a context of acquiring milk and therefore milk is being treated as an attribute and this laconic question could only conceivably be asked to a woman about her own lactation. "Do you have a condom?" "Yes"…."Have you got it with you?" "No." Got and have are often about possession, and the fact is we posses many things that are not located near us. Usually the context of a situation makes it clear whether present accessibility is implied. When this is not the case, or when a speaker is being a literalist dick, "Have" refers to possession in the most general sense, "got" is used to focus attention on the specific situation. "Got" is temporally shorter than "have". "I have got AIDS," can by the literalist dick be contorted "Oh so you have gotten AIDS in the past, but its all better now, good to hear." Whereas "I have AIDS," is not subject to that weakness.
@Kernel Sanders - I'm afraid I have to disagree with you about these nuanced differences. In British English there is absolutely no difference in meaning between "have" and "have got" (which is why it dictionaries list it under "have"). The only difference is grammatical - we can only use "have got" in present simple - and one of formality. I also teach English, and I've never seen any British course book, dictionary, grammar book or usage book suggest that there is any difference in meaning, even nuanced, only one of formality.
Here is Swan, in Practical English Usage, the "bible" for many EFL teachers and students - "Note that 'have got' means exactly the same as 'have' in this case (possession, relationships, illnesses characteristics etc)"
As you say, "Got milk?" is a laconic advertising slogan, no doubt a deliberate play on words, combining the meanings of "Do you have any milk?" and "Did you get any milk?", which could be one reason why "Have milk?" wouldn't work. But there's another, much simpler reason it would sound ridiculous - we just don't often elide sentences (miss words out) with "have" - "Have a car?" doesn't work, but "Got a car?" does. In fact, we often elide with "got" - "Got a light?", "Got a moment", so I don't think you can really base any semantic assumptions on that.
And with those expressions, and others such as "Have you got it with you", we could equally well say "Do you have a light", "Do you have a moment", and "Do you have it with you", so I don't think you can really draw any conclusions about "got" being more to do with accessibility. The only difference is that the "got" versions are more informal.
And there is no temporal difference either. "She's got blue eyes and a fiery temper" is no shorter temporally than "She has blue eyes and a fiery temper". And the same with "He's got a Masters in Finance, a great job and a big house in the country" and "He has a Masters in Finance" etc.
Included in Swan's examples is one for permanent possession with "have got" - "My mother's got two sisters", and one for temporary possession with "have" - "The Prime Minister has a bad cold".
Really the only difference is that we use "have got" in normal informal spoken language, and "have" in more formal spoken language and in writing.
This of course doesn't negate the fact that we occasionally also use "have got" as the present perfect of "get" - "I've just got myself a new car", and we would probably interpret "I've just got a virus from somewhere" as "I've just contracted a virus" (although I don't follow the logic of why somebody should think that use of the present perfect should mean something is no longer true, as in your example; we never use it like that for anything else).
But without the use of "just" or other words to reinforce that we mean "get", we would normally simply take it to mean possession, as in "I've got a cold".
OK. First, from the American persepective, 'have got' in the simple present tense to express obligation or current possession is perfectly good (albeit informal) English. I use it daily as do most of my native AmE speaking friends. It's NOT a Britishism; it's standard English! In the US, it's almost always said with a contracted form of has (I've got, we've got, she's got, etc.). The only time it's used in AmE without have being contracted is when one wants to express that the action is critical (e.g. I HAVE GOT to go now; I'm 30 minutes late for work!). As others have said, it's more comfortable and rhythmic to use in everyday conversations. Got and have are not redundant. They mean completely different things separately.
Second, in the US, 'to get' is used in both simple present and present perfect constructions, the difference being that we use gotten to form the participle. If you hear an American speaking, we (*should*) normally use 'have got' for present tense and 'have gotten' for the present perfect (I've got the book -- present possession vs. I've gotten the book -- present perfect meaning I've already obtained it).
Obviously, in BrE, got is used for both forms and gotten is incorrect. That is not the case in US English.
Third, @joelackey92 is not wrong grammatically (again, in American English) in his use of got. I got a cup of coffee and I got a new shirt are both 100% correct meaning SIMPLE PAST of get (as in: I got a cup of coffee this morning on the way to work; or I got a new shirt as a birthday present). I believe he was thinking of 'to get' as in 'to obtain' or 'to acquire'. That IS NOT colloquial. It's standard and is a completely different usage than what's being discussed here.
Last, it's a living, fluid language that we are discussing here (not that it matters; both are correct). Use which ever form you like in everyday, informal conversation. But, never write "have got" in FORMAL writing, particularly as so many object to the idiomatic usage.
PS I'd also like to agree with those saying that "have got" is the emphatic form of have as well.
PPS I also want to acknowledge that we do use got to and gotta (improperly) without have in the US, myself included. I'd NEVER use that in front of someone I'd never met before though. It's sort of like "letting your hair down" amongst friends.
@Hairy Scot "he once got arrested" "he was once arrested"
Late to the party...
I grew up in Boston so my English is a mish-mash of AmE and BrE complete with misspellt words (to an American) and odd constructions ("so aren't you").
Having said that, I want to urge everyone who generalizes about groups to stop doing this. There is no standard "American" English anymore than there is a standard "British" English.
People tend to talk and write based entirely on where they were raised. Communication is the most important thing to remember. Languages are fluent and change.
@Fitty Stim - sorry, but Standard English is an absolutely basic concept in linguistics. It's the language that's used in education, the media and publishing, and in my field, language teaching. Much of linguist David Crystal's 'The Stories of English' is about how this standard came about.
If we didn't have Standard English, what would linguists mean when they say that an utterance such as 'I ain't never seen him' or 'He were in t'pub' are non-standard? (both are absolutely normal in London and Yorkshire dialect respectively, but are considered non-standard. This would also apply to your 'so aren't you' - that's not a judgement - simply that the phrase is non-standard, or at least it is in BrE. And in my field, what would we teach foreign learners?
And that there are some general differences between British English and American English is pretty obvious. Take spelling for example: British and Americans may differ, but in each we all follow our own system. The same with vocabulary: there are regional differences of course, but there are certain words, like faucet, which are familiar to all Americans but which many Brits have no idea about (it's tap in BrE). And what about all those others: chips / crisps / fries, pants / trousers / knickers. There are even a few grammatical differences: many BrE speakers (and their media) prefer a plural verb with group nouns like team, government etc, but this seems anathema to many AmE speakers.
If I teach somebody Yorkshire dialect, as attractive as it is to me, its not going to get them very far, so of course I teach them Standard English. Then we have to choose which Standard English to teach; we need to be consistent. So for example, most students in Europe learn British Standard English, while not surprisingly those in Latin America learn American standard English.
So yes, there is definitely a Standard English, and as there are considerable general variations between the American sort and the British sort, it is entirely appropriate to talk of British Standard English and American Standard English. Otherwise why would the publishers of the Harry Potter books have seen fit to make so many changes for American publication?
Linguists discuss Standard English at University College London: http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/dick/standard.htm
Standard British English, grammar.about.com;http://grammar.about.com/od/rs/g/standbriteterm.htm
The Columbia Guide to Standard American English:http://www.amazon.com/Columbia-Guide-Standard-American-English/dp/0231069898
BBC / British Council - American vs Standard British English:http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/blogs/marcc22/american-versus-standard-british-english
British-domiciled American Linguist's blog comparing the two standards:http://separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.com/
@WWYou make a telling point about phrases from local dialect.There is a phrase commonly used in south west and central Scotland which I am sure would be very confusing to anyone from outside that area.To those unfamiliar with it, the phrase "a roll on bacon" would certainly be confusing and would probably conjure up a somewhat strange image.But the locals know exactly what is meant.The phrase itself probably came about as a corruption of "a roll and bacon".
AH! The beauty of language! :-))
And there is also Standard Scottish English (SSE), a variant of Standard British English, which is to say "the characteristic speech of the professional class [in Scotland] and the accepted norm in schools" (and in the media), especially where it differs from Standard British English.
This is not to be confused with literary Scots (as in the poems of Robbie Burns), or with the various different Scottish regional dialects, (sometimes referred to as broad Scots) which might use non-standard vocabulary and grammar. SSE has certain pronunciation features (such as rolled Rs) and some distinct vocabulary that wouldn't necessarily be understood in England:
bap - soft, floury morning rollburn - brook, streamclype - (verb and noun) - to tell or inform on somebody, the person who does itcrabit - grumpycrowdie - cottage cheesedo the messages - do the shoppingdour - (pronounced do-er) glum, serious - but now pretty well-known outwith Scotlanddreich - dull, overcast, miserablefish / pie supper - fish / pie and chips (fries)guttered - very drunkheavy (a pint of) - vaguely equivalent to a pint of bitter (traditional dark ale) in Englandloch - lakeoutwith - not part of, outsidepeely-wally - pale, off-colourpinkie - little fingertatties - potatoeswee - smallwheesht! - be quiet!
I don't speak a particular Scottish dialect, nor with a Scottish accent, but I have used all those words and expressions on occasion.
Well, you're all wrong : It should obviously be "I have getted".
@Warsaw Will, you clearly are too obsessed with specialist book definitions and don't pay enough attention to actual use. Just because you can't hear subtle use variations doesn't mean they aren't there. My background is philosophy of language and symbolic logic, which is focused on uncovering the statements behind sentences, rather than being obsessed with the rules for creating sentences themselves. Trust what occurs in specific instances, not what general rules say. It's people like you that would tell TS Eliot to change "Let us go then, you and I" to "Let us go then, you and me" which would positively screw up one of the best loved lines in English literature, just because of your preposterous need to cling to the rules in all instances rather than using your ears and your mind and treating rules as the rough guidelines they are.
@WW ... A few of those words on your list are well known outside of Scottish English. Well, at least they're known in AmE but then we hav a lot of folks whose forbears came from Scotland ... pinkie, wee, loch (there are place names in the US with loch), dour are all well known and noted in the US ... a few others less so ... dreich, whist. To red(d) ... not on your list) is to clean up or get ready.
@WW - dour is also known in England, but usually pronounced differently; wee is no doubt pretty universal. It seems the latest Scottish word to catch on in England is 'minging', (red-lined) which in Scotland originally meant smelling badly, but seems to be taking on a meaning among English young people of 'very bad, unpleasant or ugly'.
But if you have place names with loch in the US, why is it that Americans (and the English for that matter) seem to be unable to pronounce it? Which reminds me of these lines from an old music-hall song 'Wee Deoch an Doris made popular by Harry Lauder - 'If you can say, "It's a braw bricht moonlicht nicht",Then yer a'richt, ye ken.'
red(d) up does indeed seem to mean clean or tidy up, and appears to have gone to America from Scotland, but I don't think I've ever heard it in Scotland.
My list was of Scottish words used in Standard Scottish English, not dialect. If we include dialect words that non-dialect-speakers like myself understand, we can add hundreds of others, for example:
lum - chimney - Lang may your lum reekreek - smoke (Edinburgh was known as Auld Reekie, just like London was 'the Big Smoke')it's a sair fecht - (approximately) it's a hard life
and words also used in parts of the North of England, like:
ken - knowbairn - childkirk - churchken - know
@WWI have heard "redd" on many occasions, mainly as "redd oot" meaning to clean out or clear out.It was/is often used by indignant mothers when discussing teenage son's untidy sleeping quarters.It is synonymous with "muck" which is used in much the same context.A fine example of "muck" appears in the Andy Stewart song "The Muckin' o' Geordie's Byre", which could well have be rendered as "The Reddin' o' Geordie's Byre" R
The bottom line is " I've got" is the subjective form, it's mostly colloquial, and the "got" , while not illiterate, is still unnecessary to use in any of the arguments made above. It's an extra word that conveys no additional meaning. "I have got to..." does not convey more urgency than "I have to" as someone suggested.
Just leave out the "got". Correct is "I have to go" I have to call.. etc.
@Moucon - I wonder what you mean exactly when you say 'I've got' is the subjective form. The term subjective usually applies only to pronouns (as in subjective case), and 'I' is subjective in both 'I have' and 'I've got', so I'm not quite sure what your point is there.
You're absolutely right that 'got' conveys no extra meaning, which has certainly confused some people, but it does suggest a difference in register. And I agree that in formal writing 'I have' is more appropriate. But I hardly ever do any formal writing, and in spoken language, at least in British English, 'have got' tends to be more natural, more idiomatic (in part precisely because it is less formal).
So in most of the situations that most of us use English, there is absolutely no need to leave out 'got', and 'have got' is just as 'correct' as 'have'. Informal (i.e. normal) doesn't mean incorrect. In fact many of us probably use both interchangeably, depending on context and the surrounding words.
Exactly the same applies to 'have got to' and 'have to'. And that's why we teach these constructions to foreign learners (together with their limits): so that they will sound more natural and speak good idiomatic English.
I'm glad, however, you don't consider Jane Austen, Lord Byron, Charles Lamb, Lewis Carroll, Emily Dickinson, et al. 'illiterate', seeing they all used 'have got'.
I might just add that the usage of the present perfect to talk about actions happening in the present is not solely and English issue. In the French language, for example, the present perfect doesn't exist - rather they use a simple present. i.e. I have = j'ai and I have got = j'ai. I have been (eg somewhere for a length of time) = I am.
M'sieur 'arrycastle ! Many languages of Europe 'ave a form using "have+participle"; however, the exact usage is different. Using this form with "since", 'how long" and "for" to indicate a period up to the present is, it is true, very English.
jayles the ungreedy
Proper as it may be, hearing "You've got..." repeatedly during an given Al Roker segment is redolent of a cat sliding down a chalkboard tree.
@Harrycastle, belatedly - "In the French language, for example, the present perfect doesn't exist - rather they use a simple present. i.e. I have = j'ai and I have got = j'ai."
This is a double whammy, I'm afraid.
1. The 'I've got' construction is nothing to do with present perfect, of 'get' or anything else - so the 'j'ái' thing is neither here nor there. It's simply an idiomatic version of 'I have' which can only be used in the present; for other times we need to use 'have'. If 'I've got' was present perfect we would be able to use past simple and past perfect of 'get' with same meaning (which we patently can't):
She's got blonde hair = She has blonde hair
* When I first knew her she got brown hair - where did she obtain it from, I wonder? - correct version - When I first knew her she had brown hair
* She had originally got black hair, apparently - again, where had she obtained it from? - correct version- She had originally had black hair, apparently
Forget present perfect, it has nothing to do with it. Why is it that most foreign learners grasp this quite easily, but some native speakers just can't see the wood for the trees, I wonder?
2.French does have a tense constructed in the same way as present perfect - passé composé, which has two functions. In spoken French it is used instead of the passé simple to talk about the past. But its primary function is much the same as present perfect - "Le passé composé fonctionne normalement comme forme d'accompli dans le présent" (Grammaire du francais - Denis, Sancier-Chateau, Livre de Poche) - The passé composé functions normally as a form of completion in the present:
"Jusqu'á présent Paul ná écouté que de la musique classique""Up until now Paul has only listened to classical music."
I've noticed that one Kernel Sanders thinks I'm 'too obsessed with specialist book definitions and don't pay enough attention to actual use', and that I should trust what occurs in specific instances. Oh, but I do. When I say that I've got three sisters and that one of them's got blue eyes, another's got a vicious temper, and the third's got naturally wavy hair, I know perfectly well that the only difference with 'have' here is one of register (formality).
But as someone who teaches foreigners English and writes a grammar blog, I have to base my arguments on something rather more solid than a hunch. And in any case the 'specialist books' I referred to are based on corpus linguistics - in other words how people actually use the language.
One problem is that every attempt here to explain some 'subtle difference' between 'have' and 'have got' involves some interpretation based on obtaining something, and as my examples above show, grammatical possession is about much more than owning or obtaining something. And what about 'have got to' and 'have to' - where's the subtle difference there, I wonder?
And do I trust books written by people who have made a long study of language more than a few theories made up on the hoof on this forum to explain an idiomatic use that doesn't need any explaining? You bet I do.
But what really puzzled me was this somewhat ad hominem statement - 'It's people like you that would tell TS Eliot to change "Let us go then, you and I" to "Let us go then, you and me" which would positively screw up one of the best loved lines in English literature, just because of your preposterous need to cling to the rules in all instances rather than using your ears and your mind and treating rules as the rough guidelines they are.'
What's this got to do with anything? Firstly, this is a complete non-sequitur. Trying to understand what a phrase means has nothing to do with a 'preposterous need to cling to the rules in all instances rather than using your ears and your mind and treating rules as the rough guidelines they are.'
And secondly, as most of my comments on this forum show, I am forever defending actual usage as being more important than formal rules, and I never tell others what to say, and certainly not a poet. And nor would I ever use an argument such as 'it's people like you who ...'. Apart from the fact that it's not very polite, how could I possibly know?
Attacking or criticising the person rather than the opinion or position seems to be something that is very much in vogue on internet forums (or fora if you prefer it).I have encountered it on a number of occasions but I must say that it pains me to see instances of it here on PITE.While I may not always agree with WW, I would never dream of insulting him.
One way of looking at English is to view it as a collection of patterns, collocations, phrases and idioms, from which if needed we may identify some 'rules'. However there is also the matter of register, date, context, genre, intonation, background culture and which dialect of English we are addressing. All these things influence the actual meaning conveyed, and undermine the idea that there are all-time all-encompassing rules, or 'right' or 'wrong' English.
Teaching English as a second (or third) language is a somewhat special case, which is dominated by the required end-use: English for business purposes focuses on business phrases, situations and vocabulary, and pays scant attention to slang, general idioms, and informal items which are not important. One cannot hope to cover everything. It is enough to be clear, use appropriate intonation, register and style, and know enough about the culture not to put your foot in it.
That said, the real message contained in an utterance may be quite at odds with the actual word forms: consider for instance how many ways one can say "Really" in various contexts. It may convey surprise, indicate interest, or (with a flat or falling intonation) suggest disinterest. In the same way "Give me a call sometime" might indicate real interest or almost quite the opposite, depending on context. So focussing entirely on the words is by no means the whole story, although in teaching English one must start somewhere.
jayles the unwoven
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