I have come across the following sentence in Activate Level A2 coursebook by Carolyn Barraclough, Elaine Boyd, Suzanne Gaynor, Megan Roderick, Mary Stephens:

I would recommend the Art Museum - especially if you've got a birthday.

I have always been taught that we cannot use the verb 'to have (got)' while talking about age: I am 18 (years old). It is my birthday next month. or My birthday is next month. My source of reference here is 'Common mistakes at KET' by Liz Driscoll CUP.

The sentence in question wouldn't have baffled me if there was the word 'party' as in '... especially if you've got a birthday party.'

I am looking for a reliable source to read more on the topic as well as thoughts on how natural the sentence sounds and how frequent this usage is in everyday speech.


To a native speaker the meaning is not only clear, but the sentence does not sound at all odd. "I have got a birthday next week " means exactly the same as "It is my birthday next week". To analyse it: saying 'I have got' implies that whatever it is that I have got is mine. I have got a birthday = it is my birthday.

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  • But my question is 'Is it grammatically correct?' I am Russian and if we look at what Russian people say on daily basis, which makes it sound OK thanks to the quantity of repetition, in reality doesn't reflect the situation of what is grammatical and what's not, - most of us just can't speak proper Russian. – Yukatan Oct 27 '18 at 5:13
  • What part of English variety do you represent? Where are you from and where do you live (if it's OK to ask)? I want to form an opinion on where this phrase is acceptable. The thing is I prepare my students for Russian State school leaving exams where they penalise for answers such as 'I have my birthday' because they aren't listed in the preparation materials as appropriate/grammatical. I do understand that any language is a living thing, that it does evolve, but I don't consider it appropriate to teach points which aren't covered in approved materials. – Yukatan Oct 27 '18 at 5:23
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    Native BrE speaker, living in East of England. I used to earn my living writing and editing formal parliamentary reports. I cannot vouch for what Russian state educators consider to be correct English grammar, but there is nothing grammatically wrong with he phrase in spoken English. – JeremyC Oct 27 '18 at 7:35

You are correct that usually we would not use "have" with a birthday or age. You made a great comment about "birthday party" fitting naturally into the sentence, and that is almost certainly the intention of the text. They are probably using "birthday" to mean "birthday party". However if whoever wrote that asked for my feedback, I would tell them that it would be more clear if they had actually used the word "party".

Another common combination of "have" with "birthday" is in the phrasing "I have a birthday coming up," which means that the person's birthday is in the near future.

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