Consider this:

We have got to go back
- Luke Skywalker in Star Wars V

I don't think it is actually present perfect usage but certainly used like that syntactically. It is more like simple present usage. What do you guys think?

  • In my opinion, It's perfect in construction, but modal in meaning: it has the deontic modality meaning. Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 12:26
  • "Have got" has the same meaning of "have" in colloquial English, but is frowned upon in formal written English. See this previous question: https://ell.stackexchange.com/questions/62943/i-have-vs-i-have-got Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 14:09
  • @CanadianYankee This is not the case. "Have got + noun" is different from "Have (got) to", which is a modal idiom. Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 14:14
  • @user178049 The context of that other question is possession rather than deontic modality, but I think Canadian Yankee's comment is correct in either case. "We have got to go back" and "We have to go back."
    – Tashus
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 14:50
  • 1
    @Tashus Sorry. I misread it. Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 14:57

2 Answers 2


"Have got to [verb]" is an expression of present obligation. "Have got" is an auxiliary verb construction. The construction has the same meaning of the simpler and more standard "have to [verb]". In your example, "We have to go back" would have the same meaning.


It is a present perfect structure.  It uses the present-tense "has" and the participle "got". 

I understand what "a present perfect structure" means.  It's a grammatical phrasing with identifiable parts.  It is a part of English syntax.  I have no idea what "a present perfect usage" might mean. 

Certainly, I can express similar semantics using very different grammatical structures:

  • We have got to go back.   present tense, perfect aspect, active voice
  • We need to go back.   present tense, indefinite aspect, active voice
  • We're obliged to go back.   present tense, indefinite aspect, passive voice

What I think is that structure and meaning are separate concepts.  They are related, and we often use one to help explain the other.  If they were identical and indistinguishable, we wouldn't be able to do that. 

  • I know they are different.but reason for my question is that if we remove has got with "have", meaning remains the same.this we can't do in other perfect sentences. Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 3:49
  • Oh! That's because the meanings of to get and to have are usually related. Once you get something, you have it. Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 4:06

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