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What is the difference between "if he has got" and "if he got"?

I know that "If he got" is used for wishes or to talk about 'impossible' situations.

For example

If he got the car, he would visit New Jersey

but I do not know what is the difference when I use has got

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3 Answers 3

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The verb construction have got is used to convey the meaning of possession. So the sentence 'He has got the car' means that he is in possession of the car.

Simply got however, means something a different. It is synonymous to to obtain or to receive, which is what happens before someone becomes possessor of something.

This gives the following difference in meaning in your sentence:

If he has got the car, he will visit New Jersey. = If he is in possession of the car, he will visit New Jersey.

If he had got the car, he would visit New Jersey. = If he was in possession of the car, he would visit New Jersey.

You cannot use got here in your sentence, because it is used to refer to obtaining something in the past.

Instead, you could say:

If he were given the car, he would visit New Jersey.

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  • Does not 'if he has got a car, he will go to NJ' convey uncertainty with regards to him owning the car, for e.g. I interpret the expression like this: I don't know if he has a car or not. If "has got it", he will go else he might to something else.
    – Max
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 13:41
  • Thanks, I incorporated it into my answer as well. I was not sure which type of conditional the OP was looking for, since he asked about the present has got but used the form would in his main clause, while that is normally used with a past simple conditional.
    – Vlammuh
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 13:47
  • "If he got the car, he would visit New Jersey" can make sense as is, although it may not mean what the writer intended. (But with that one sentence out of context all we can know is what the sentence actually says, and that does make sense.)
    – nnnnnn
    Commented May 19, 2016 at 13:39
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"To get" has a lot of meanings. "To get something" normally means to obtain something. "To have got something" has the original meaning to have obtained something, but then this perfect tense developed a semantic change of meaning.

If you have got something then the consequence is that you have something and today this meaning in present tense is the normal meaning of to have got something.

For example, "Have you got a car?" (BrE) is the same as "Do you own a car?"

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  • Don't forget that the past tense can also be "has gotten". (Apparently not used much in BrE, but I know that it is used quite a lot in AusE (which is interesting considering that AusE is heavily influenced by BrE)).
    – Dog Lover
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 23:45
  • Gotten is primarily AmE, but I didn't know that it is also used in Australia. Interesting.
    – rogermue
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 23:52
  • @Dog Lover: is there a difference in AusE between "has got" and "has gotten", the way there is in AmE? Commented Aug 16, 2015 at 1:58
  • @PeterShor Off the top of my head, he has got a laptop = he owns a laptop, he has gotten a laptop = he has received a laptop.
    – Dog Lover
    Commented Aug 16, 2015 at 3:02
  • AusE: IMHO he has gotten a laptop is focussed on the action of buying or receiving a laptop; he has got a laptop is focussed on the object (he has a laptop, but we don't know or care when or how he got it). Compare "have you a got a laptop?" (e.g. because I'd like to borrow it) vs. "have you gotten a laptop?" (e.g. because you should have by now) Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 6:29
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If he got the car, he would visit New Jersey.

One way to interpret this is in the past tense: that there were a number of different occasions when there was an opportunity to get the car, and on those occasions when he actually did get the car he used it to visit New Jersey. Putting this interpretation into context: "Every day last summer he asked his sister if he could borrow her car. If he got the car, he would visit New Jersey. If not, he would stay home and watch TV."

Another way to interpret it is that the possibility of him getting the car was in the past, but if he did get it then he would visit New Jersey in the future. "What would he be likely to do tomorrow?" "Well he just went to ask his sister if he can borrow her car. If he got the car, he would visit New Jersey." This interpretation is a bit awkward.

"If he got the car, he will visit New Jersey" sounds more natural.

If he has got the car

This could be talking about whether he has the car now, in which case "he would go" doesn't make sense. It should then say "If he has got the car he will go to New Jersey".

Or it could be talking about a specific point in the future, in which case again "he would go" doesn't work. "If he has got the car next Thursday, he will go to New Jersey."

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