Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More

“I’ve got” vs. “I have”

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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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:

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 Apr-05-2011

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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 ‘spose
Bye all, it been fun

jim2 Apr-05-2011

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"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".

"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.

Chris B Apr-04-2011

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"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?

JJMBallantyne Apr-04-2011

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"Is there not a redundancy in the use of 'got' with 'have'?"

No. Otherwise the speaker would not have used it.

JJMBallantyne Apr-04-2011

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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).

Red1 Apr-04-2011

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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. :)

scyllacat Apr-03-2011

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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.

vwmoll Apr-03-2011

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RE: milamber

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.

Jackbox Apr-01-2011

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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

milamber Apr-01-2011

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@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 and GrammarGirl - they will give you an American perspective while the other references are being approved.

Warsaw Will Apr-01-2011

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@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 websites (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.

Warsaw Will Apr-01-2011

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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– 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

jim2 Mar-31-2011

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@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.

Warsaw Will Mar-31-2011

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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.

goofy Mar-30-2011

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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?

Jackbox Mar-30-2011

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"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.

Warsaw Will Mar-30-2011

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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.

Chris B Mar-30-2011

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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 other

jim2 Mar-30-2011

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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.

bubbha Mar-30-2011

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Just a thought: .

I have an ice cream cone = emphasis on possession only
I have got an ice cream cone = communicates that there was a transaction

Jackbox Mar-27-2011

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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.

Warsaw Will Mar-27-2011

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Does it make any difference if a try to use it this way?

I've got a car.

Sharm Mar-27-2011

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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.

dogreed Mar-26-2011

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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."

goofy Mar-24-2011

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