If you've got family, you've got drama.

Well, I think this is a fact, at least from the speaker's point of view, so I would say:

If you get family, you get drama.

It's like if water boils, it evaporates.

So why is the present perfect tense used? and what does it add to the meaning?


As a general statement of truth, there are any number of ways to express this thought. However, some are better than others. In your second sentence you say:

When you get family ...

and while this is an interesting phrasing, it doesn't really make sense. You don't get (in the sense of acquire) family. Your family gets you.

Instead you could say something like:

Where there is family, there is drama.

This expresses the universal truth that the existence of one inevitably leads to the existence of the other.

In a similar way, "have got", as used in your first example sentence, expresses the existence of something rather than the acquisition of something. An example:

I've got two brothers.

I didn't acquire my brothers. My parents (obviously) did that for me. Have got is another way to say exist.

Note you can also use have instead of have got.

I have two brothers.

Although this implies more possession than acquisition, again it actually means they exist (since I certainly don't own my siblings).

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In the present tense, “have,” “have got” are used for the same thing. “Have” shows ownership of something. When somebody owns something, you should usually use the word “have.” That's why the first sentence with have got is correct.

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  • 2
    To add on to that: "if you get family, you get drama" would imply that it's the acquisition of family that causes drama, rather than the continued having. That's appropriate if you're discouraging someone from joining a family, but otherwise not really. – Darael Jul 6 '18 at 14:03
  • So what about this one: "If you have a family, you have drama." ? – user2824371 Jul 6 '18 at 15:20
  • 1
    @user2824371 it's okay but it's more formal than have got. dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/common-verbs/… – maria Jul 6 '18 at 15:40

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