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I’ve vs I’ve got

“I’ve (You’ve) to go swimming” vs. “I’ve (You’ve) got to go swimming” 


“I’ve (You’ve”) the Frisbee”   vs.  “I’ve (You’ve) got the Frisbee”  vs.  “I have the Frisbee”

They could all be correct or not, but the ones I believe are wrong, at least the ones that  sound wrong, are when there is a contraction used without “Got”. Anyone know a definite answer to which is correct grammatically, and if it is grammatically correct, whether it is correct common usage.

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In British English, at least, the 'got' versions are more common in normal speech, where we usually contract, while the 'have' versions are more common in written language where we don't usually contract. So I agree that you won't hear contracted versions of 'I have a new car' or 'I have to go to work earlier tomorrow' very often (in a way the 'got' version acts rather like a contracted version).

In Michael Swan's Practical English Usage, he says, for example, that 'I've got a new girlfriend 'is more natural (in BrE) 'I have a new girlfriend'. And all his 'have' examples are uncontracted (as are the ones in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary). But he makes no mention of whether or not 'have' versions cannot be contracted. Although it's unusual I don't think we can say 'I've an appointment tomorrow morning' or 'I've to phone him back later' are actually ungrammatical.

As for sounding natural, I think it depends on the rest of the sentence. For example 'I've to go' doesn't sound very natural to me, but 'I've to be there at eight' sounds fine to me.

Sometimes a contracted 'have' version even sounds better to me than the uncontracted version, for example 'I've no idea' sounds better to me than 'I have no idea' and is used as an example sentence in the OALD, which was discussed here:

It seems to work with other words after 'no', too - 'Ive no money at the moment', 'We've no intention of leaving'.

Warsaw Will June 25, 2013, 9:43am

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Excellent comment by Warsaw Will. As an English-speaking American, though, I think I see a contrast with one example WW uses. I agree "I've to go" sounds odd, but to me so does "I've to be there at eight." I don't think any regular American would ever say the latter (though one might hear it from, say, an elegant dowager speaking to her chauffeur).

providencejim June 25, 2013, 1:30pm

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There is an extensive discussion of this here:-

Hairy Scot June 27, 2013, 6:53pm

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I have not quibble with use of "I've" but I do prefer "I have" to "I've got", and certainly "I have to go" is preferable to "I've to go" and "I've got to got".

Hairy Scot June 27, 2013, 6:57pm

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Please excuse the typos.
Should read
"I have no quibble"
"I've got to go".

Hairy Scot June 27, 2013, 6:59pm

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@Hairy Scot - I think your reference to your own question is really more about 'have' vs 'have got', whereas this thread is mainly concerned with whether it's possible to contract 'have' when it's the main or lexical verb (rather than an auxiliary). As well as the other PITE reference I gave above, there's also a discussion here:

The idea there, which Skeeter Lewis also mentioned in that other PITE thread, seems to be that it's OK to contract 'have' when is not carrying the main stress (or accent) or focus. For example:

"I've a dog" - probably doesn't work. On the other hand - "Wait a minute, I've an idea" works when the stress is on "I"

Similarly, when someone answers the question "Are we taking the car?" with "I've a taxi waiting at the corner", it does seem to work, because the focus is on "a taxi waiting at the corner", not on "have".

"I've to go now" doesn't sound very natural, but in the following exchange I think "I've to" sounds fine:

"When will he tell you if you've got the job?" - "I've to phone him tomorrow" -the focus is on "tomorrow", not on "have".

Negatives - no problems here - "I haven't a clue" is a perfectly good (if not better) alternative (in BrE at least) to "I don't have a clue" - and perhaps even more natural than "I haven't got a clue" - (For example, there's a BBC Radio programme called "I'm sorry, I haven't a clue")

Have + no - also seems to lend itself to contracting where the stress is on "no", or the focus is on the rest of the sentence - "I've no idea", "They've no tickets left".

On that other point, I know you prefer 'have to' to 'have got to', but for many of us it's horses for courses, 'have to' for written or more formal English, and 'have got to' for normal spoken English. And also they're not entirely interchangable: we don't usually use 'have got to' for general obligation, for example - "Usually I have to start work at 9, but tomorrow I've got to go in a bit earlier.". As for 'I've got' and 'I have', most of the usage books and course books I've got suggest that 'I've got' is more natural in spoken language. And both of them can only be used in the present. :)

@Patrick James McKee - this has turned out to be a really interesting question, and one which I'm sure has already interested linguists. In fact, it's one of the better ones I've come across on this forum (to reference another post on this website), as it involves a bit of real thinking rather than just 'I'm right and you're wrong' type arguments.

Warsaw Will June 28, 2013, 10:24am

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Point taken.


Hairy Scot June 28, 2013, 12:44pm

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@HS - I've just come across a webpage from the Arts Department at Glasgow University where they suggest that, whereas "Have you got any?" is more common in English Standard English, "Do you have any?" is seen as preferred or more common in Scottish Standard English. Perhaps this was traditionally taught in Scottish schools and universities and might explain why you feel the way you do. My later education was in English schools, and of course all the teaching materials we use as well as reference books tend to reflect English Standard English, so I hadn't come across this aspect before.

Warsaw Will June 30, 2013, 7:25am

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Don't use the contraction, otherwise got really should be used with it, else it's awkward.

Matthaeus July 11, 2013, 7:02pm

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In my region of the US, we only contract auxiliaries. I have a brother vs I've got a brother <--- same meaning.

Here, it's NEVER I've a brother. I have seen that used by British speakers though. It all depends where, in the world, you are.

As for "have got" vs "have", while I often read that have is more American, that's not my experience. It's quite common in the US, but almost always is contracted. We may write it less often, but informally, have got is standard AmE.

Grammarnut September 20, 2013, 5:16pm

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Yes     No