In my language have has exactly two different meanings. First is possess. In the following sentences I can replace have with posses,

I have a pen = I possess a pen
I have a car = I possess a car
I have this book = I possess this book

the second meaning is forced to do or must do. In simple language have means, that I have no other choice, I must do this. In the following sentences I can replace have with forced.

I have to go now = I am forced to go now I have to kill him = I am forced to kill him

I guess that in English have is not equivalent to forced to. Actually it seems that have in the above written two sentences means that I posses that job.

I have to go = I possess a job, and the job is to go
I have to kill him = I possess a job, and the job is to kill him

I also do not understand why sometimes in English got is used with have, e.g.

I have got to go now.
I have got this car.

What does got mean in: "I got to go" or "I get to go". Is get=got=have? As I understand get means possess.

3 Answers 3


Have can be an auxillary verb, but get cannot.

To have {noun} means to possess something. The "something" can be a physical object, a physical or mental state, or an outcome.

To have {infinitive} means to be required to do something. It can mean "being forced to" in the sense of that there will be negative consequences if you don't do it. It does not necessarily mean you were held at gunpoint and coerced into doing something.

To have {past participle} is an expression of a perfect tense (past, present or future depending on whether it's had, have/has, or will have). Have used this way does not mean anything in and of itself, it's an auxillary verb and cannot really be substituted with another verb.

To get {noun} means to acquire something. The "something" can be a physical object, a physical or mental state, or an outcome. I worked today and got $200; Today I got sick. Today I got my bills paid off. It may also be used in place where have can be used when the subject is emphasizing that he/she is bringing resources to an event - i.e. acquiring resources for the event. This is a nice party. I got a case of beer.

To get {infinitive} means to be allowed to do something. I get to go to the park.

To get {past participle} means to do something to become a certain state. I got cleaned up. She was unlucky and got screwed.

So, I hope that clears up any confusion you had about the meanings of have and got.

Now, with the above in mind:

I have got this car.

Gotten is the proper past participle of get and is what should be said here, but the above is common (so common that I can't remember the last time I heard I've gotten this car.)

So I have got(ten) this car means I have acquired this car. It's to get expressed in the present perfect tense. Of course, if the person saying this is talking among a group of friends, he/she telling them basically the equivalent of I have acquired this car for us, even though it would also make sense to say I have this car.


I have got to go now.

is breaking the rules, but not uncommon, at least in my location. I gotta go is a way to write the quickly-spoken form of this (but isn't a real word). Avoid using it in a situation where you are expected to appear/sound educated or in writing.

Consider to have got {infinitive} to be a phrase of it's own, and this means the same as to have {infinitive} but stronger. Also don't get it confused with the past tense of to get {infinitive} above.

And, as this says, in American English, have got to is ONLY used in the simple present tense.

  • Gotten does not exist in BrE outside the fossilised phrase ill-gotten gains.
    – TRiG
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 9:56

In English, to have = 'to possess', to have to VERB = 'must _VERB', as in your language.

But there is a difference between 'I have got to go' and 'I get to go'.

I have got to go = I (really) must go (expressing obligation, i.e. your "forced").

I get to go = I have the opportunity|chance|freedom to go. I can choose to go.

"Hurray! We get to go on the ark!" exclaimed the giraffe.

  • 1
    As opposed to "Hurry! We've got to go on the ark!" exclaimed the giraffe". :D Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 10:55
  • 1
    Nice one ............. :-)
    – TimR
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 11:17

Have and get are closely related. The root sense of have is, as you say, “possess”, which is a stative meaning: it expresses a state rather than an event. Get is the corresponding eventive verb: its root sense is “obtain”, enter into the state of possession.

But both words have a very wide range of meanings and uses beyond these core senses. To begin with, the “possession” signified by have is a very loose notion (as is the notion expressed by ‘genitives’ with -‘s or of): to say I have a disease or an idea or a job signifies connections between these things and me which are very remote from ownership; and to get these things has the same loose significance.

Moreover, have and get have idiomatic and grammaticalized uses in which the notions of possessing and obtaining play no role at all. Have, for instance, enters into these idioms and constructions:

experiential have ... I had a great time. [have = “undergo, experience”]

causative have:
  passive ... I had my car repaired. [have = “cause (to be)*]
  medio-passive ... I had myself admitted to hospital [have = “cause (to be)*]
  active ... I had Bob fix my car. [have = “induce (to)”]

resultative have ... Now I have my kids in college I'm available. [have = “occupy a state (of)”]

perfect have ... I have seen the elephant. [have = “occupy a state arising from”)]

modal have:
  deontic ... I have to see the doctor. [have to =“must”]
  epistemic ... That has to be a mistake. [have to =“must”]

Get has recently (over the past 150 years or so) acquired an even wider range of uses. In many cases it has invaded have’s domain, either substituting for have or ‘sharing’ the semantic space in the collocation have got (= ‘have’):

causative get:
  passive ... I got my car repaired.
  medio-passive ... I got myself admitted to hospital
  active ... I got Bob to fix my car.

resultative (have) got ... Now I've got my kids in college I'm available.

modal (have) got to:
  deontic ... I have got to see the doctor. You gotta have heart
  epistemic ... That's got to be a mistake. You gotta be kidding me.

But get has also squatted on the territory of other verbs, like be and start and take:

passive get ... Did that letter get mailed? [get = “be”] medio-passive get ... He got himself shot

inchoative get ... He got to thinking [get = “start”]

locative get [ = “take, betake, convey”]
  intransitive ... Get back to Jersey, you bum
  transitive ... Get him to the hospital
  reflexive ... Get yourself on home

opportune get ... I got to see the elephant [get = “be permitted, be fortunate enough to”]

In most cases, get has a more active or eventive sense than have. But this is not always the case; compare

He was shot.
He got himself shot.
He had himself shot.

The version with get implies that ‘he’ somehow contributed to the shooting—perhaps he provoked it. But it does not imply, as the version with had does, that ‘he’ actively sought the shooting.

  • As a native speaker do you see have as two different words? In "I have to go", have=must, and in "I have a disease", have=possess. There are many words in my native language which have multiple meanings, depending upon the context.
    – user31782
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 16:19
  • 1
    @user31782 In every respect except the orthographic they are different words: different pronunciations, different meanings, different functions. Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 18:28
  • Does have mean to possess a job? E.g. I have to go = I possess a job, and the job is to go Is this meaning correct? I guess, it's not because have=must, a completely different meaning from to possess.
    – user31782
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 10:03
  • 1
    @user31782 Yes. As a lexical verb or an auxiliary it is pronounced with /v/ or /z/: have/has. But in the have to collocation it is pronounced with /f/ or /s/: you will sometimes see it written hafta/hasta, when the author wants to mark the colloquial register. Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 14:21
  • 1
    @Araucaria And I should have made an exception for negative questions, where the /hæv/ syllable is stressed. --But I think it is only the influence of written English that leads us to think of have as the 'base' form of the auxiliary: nowadays I think it's really a set of clitics /(ə)v/, /(ᵻ)z/, /(ᵻ)d/, with the optional vowel expandable to /hæ/ for emphasis. Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 12:15

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .