how do I ask a question "What do you usually have in your bag when you go to the beach?" using "have got" for possession?

Is it correct? "What have you usually got in your bag when you go to the beach"?

Got or get? This confuses.


Yes, it's correct; it should be got, not get.

Here are some excerpts from an article at BBC World that's based on a post from Roger Woodham (emphasis is in the original):

When we are talking about possession, relationships, illnesses and characteristics of people or things we can use either have or have got. The have got forms are more common in an informal style.

Have got has the same meaning as have and both are used as present tenses. Note that have got is NOT the present perfect of get.

It goes on to say:

in informal speech we often switch from one form to the other:

- How many subsidiaries does your company have?
- It has two.

- How many sisters do you have?
- I’ve got three (sisters).
- Do you all have your own bedrooms?
- Sue’s got her own bedroom, but neither Debbie nor I have. We have to share.

(Note in this last example that have to is used as an alternative to must because the need to share is imposed on the sisters.)

- Have you got a new car, Paul?
- Yes I have. I bought it last week.
- Has it got air conditioning?
- No it hasn’t. But it’s got a CD player.
- Do you have very many CDs?
- I’ve got hundreds.

Also from Merriam Webster's definition of have got:

: have —used in present tense situations usually in informal writing and in ordinary speech.
// I sent the package to him yesterday. I hope he has got it.
// It's getting late. We've got to go.

In each of these sentence pairs, the sentences are equivalent:

What do you have in your bag?
What have you got in your bag?

What do you usually have in your bag?
What have you usually got in your bag?

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I wouldn't say have got is incorrect, but the sentence "What have you usually got..." sounds odd. Changing it to "What have you usually *get*..." is even more awkward.

Something I'd probably say in this situation is "What do you normally have in your bag...?" I have said usually before in this context but I tend to stick to normally.

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  • Well, I would also just say "What do you usually have?", but in my case, the main requirement to use "have got ". So I'm confused. What if omit "usually", asking"What have you got in your bag when you go to the beach?", does it still sound odd? – Taras Kryvko Feb 7 '19 at 14:24
  • @Taras I guess it could work. Just the first part What have you got sounds like it's in the present tense (for example, going to a store and asking the clerk "What have you got [here today]?"), but the rest of the sentence makes it sound like it's in the past tense. So "have got" isn't an awkward phrase in other sentences (like the store) but in terms of going to the beach it still sounds a little odd. – Bodrov Feb 7 '19 at 14:28

"What have you got in your bag when you go to the beach?" is correct. Without the clause "when you go to the beach", it would be specifying "right now", but such constructions can also be used as an "in general" question or statement with the right adverbials or other additional clauses.

If you want to insert "usually", it's an adverb modifying "got", which is effectively the main verb in this case. That also makes it a general question or statement. It would go immediately before the "got" even in constructions where "have got" has no interpolated word. "I have usually got".

Get is an interesting verb with a range of meanings and conventional constructions that go with it. I imagine that it can be a tangle for a person learning English as a foreign language.

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