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I saw him at the mall last weekend and I noticed he got a new haircut.

I saw him at the mall last weekend and I noticed he had gotten a new haircut.

Do you find any of sentences above awkward? I think they are all ok but not sure they are grammatically correct.

Thank you!

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I find them both uncomfortable, though I couldn't tell you why grammatically.

I'd use

I saw him at the mall last weekend and I noticed he had a new haircut.

'had gotten' wouldn't be acceptable anywhere outside the US.

  • but will be acceptable in the US though? – MAT Aug 27 '18 at 8:33
  • I would say "and I saw he got a new hair cut" but the 2nd sentence mentioned above (~had gotten a haircut~) was used by a youtuber in his educational video. – MAT Aug 27 '18 at 8:35
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    I can't really comment on US usages - but it sounds "uneducated" to me... but you didn't 'see he got' a haircut, you only saw the result. – gone fishin' again. Aug 27 '18 at 9:03
  • @Tetsujin Both had gotten and had got are perfectly acceptable in North American usage—and they are not uneducated at all. In fact, I'd say that the had (got/gotten) versions of the sentence is more common than the other variations. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 27 '18 at 9:28
  • 'had got' - fine by me [though it wasn't one of the mentioned options], but the US '...ten' ending just sounds weird to me. Doesn't fit my head space at all; sounds like a cowboy movie from the 50s. – gone fishin' again. Aug 27 '18 at 9:32
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“Got” vs “gotten” are both past participles of the verb “to get” and are both acceptable. Comparing them is a fairly common question (for example, see here), but the usual reply—-that it is simply an American English versus British English issue§—-is an over-simplification.

In fact “gotten” used to be the more common in both the UK and North America until well into the 19th Century. It then declined in both places, only to see a resurgence in the latter half of the 20th century. That resurgence has been stronger in the US, hence the appearance (well, the fact) that it is the AmE preferred form. But that is, as I say, only the current fashion.

So in practice, “gotten” is permissible in both AmE and BrE, although for sure it is much more likely to come across as a bit anachronistic in the latter. For myself—- I am originally from the UK but now live in the US—-other than when I was very young, I have always found “have got” a bit uncouth and I switched to “have gotten” as a young adult, and that was well before moving to the the States. That said, many of my friends (from the UK, US, and beyond) tell me my writing can come across as a bit “posh” which I guess merely confirms the common view! 😀

This blog post gives a nice explanation of the whole thing.


§With AmE preferring “gotten”, while “got” is the modern BrE choice.

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