In my sons' English textbook (they are in 4th grade, and we are Italians) there are some sentences about the family of a kid: the last one is "I've got a brother".

When I was a kid, in the late '70s, I was told that "to have got" had a hint of possession; I could have said "I've got a brother" only if I was the elder brother. Is it true that nowadays it's use is so widespread that it is felt as equivalent to "to have"?

4 Answers 4


No distinction between elder or younger brother. "I've got a brother" is perfectly normal English.

It is not very stylish English, but this is 4th grade.


'Belonging to' or 'ownership' is the most common use of 'have (formal)/have got (less formal)' - I have a pen; I have got a hat, but it is not the only one. We can use possessives about relationships and there is (and never was) any suggestion of ownership in the crude sense. I have/have got three uncles, two aunts, six cousins, a nice neighbour and a lot of friends. They are my uncles, aunts, etc.


I've got a brother. [auxiliary:have/has]

The older/younger distinction you make is simply misguided. it is not true.

I've got a younger brother. I've got an older brother. I have a younger brother. I have an older brother.

And have got is the same as have. There is absolutely no semantic difference of these two forms of the present tense. There have always been two forms of the present tense in modern times. And the have got form is used in speech, not in writing.


For whatever reason,

I've got a brother


I've got this brother

is a common way to describe a situation in which you want to slightly distance yourself from your relation, e.g.

I've got this brother, he's been arrested I don't know how many times. All been pretty minor charges, but our family still doesn't like to talk about him.

In this case there is some nuance that suggests your brother is (to some extent) your responsibility or burden. But this is a special situation, and otherwise "I have got" does not imply possession in any way.

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