The following situation is given:

You have got a camera. You bought it ten years ago.

"have got", this is Simple Past, isn't it? Does the simple past tell, that it is not sure whether "you" still have the camera or not? Otherwise would you use present perfect (because you still have it) or remain simple present (fact)?

In addition, we have to rewrite this sentence starting with "I have", so I wrote:

I have got a camera for ten years.

My intuition told me to do so, but I don't understand the reason for using simple past ...

1 Answer 1


No, "have got" isn't simple past.

The term "simple past" refers to single-word verb forms such as "had", "saw", "was", "walked", "ran", "got", "took", "said".

If you are thinking of forms such as "have seen", "have taken", "have walked", those are perfect. (Specifically, we call them "present perfect", contrasting them with "past perfect" constructions such as "had seen", etc.)

"I have got" has two possible usages.

1. In BrE, "I have got" can mean "I have obtained" or "I have become". In AmE, "I have gotten" is used. Either way, it's the present perfect, not the simple past.

2. In both BrE and AmE, "I have got" is used as a colloquial synonym for "I have" - equivalent in meaning to the simple present. The "got" is effectively meaningless here.

So, "I have got a camera" usually means "I have a camera" (although depending on context, it could also mean "I have obtained a camera" - point 1 above).

*"I have got a camera for ten years" is ungrammatical. You could say "I got a camera ten years ago" (simple past, meaning that you obtained a camera ten years ago), or "I have had a camera for ten years" (present perfect).

  • 1
    Oh ok, but isnt present perfect used with 3rd verb form (is it called participle? I always forget, sry)? So shouldnt it be "have gotten" in general, or is it just an exception in BrE? Thanks for your help :)!
    – TwoStone
    Nov 14, 2017 at 22:44
  • 1
    Yes, it's called the past participle. The past participle of "get" is "got" in BrE, "gotten" in AmE. ("Got" is the simple past of "get" in both BrE and AmE. But in "I have got", "got" isn't simple past. Learners generally learn "I have got" as an alternative form of the simple present, specifically for the verb "have", with the same meaning as "I have". The Oxford English Dictionary calls it "a specialized use of the perfect", though nowadays the perfect is "have gotten" in AmE, so AmE speakers don't recognise it as such.)
    – rjpond
    Nov 14, 2017 at 22:48

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