I know this subject was discussed for many times, but I still don't get it..

I've read in a book that we can use "I've got" instead of "I have" for possesion and it gave some examples,

I've got an English book.
I've got a red car.

So I understand that it can be used only for possession of physical objects, but I saw it used in sentences like "I've got something to say", is it correct? I hope it's not a stupid question..Thank you very much!

3 Answers 3


I've got something to say is fine.

HAVE got can be used almost anywhere that bare HAVE is used as a "lexical" verb—that is, as a main verb rather than a perfect auxiliary. It can also replace HAVE in the "periphrastic modal" HAVE to = 'must', as in "I've got to get a haircut."

The principal restriction on HAVE got is that it can be used only with HAVE in the simple present form: I/you/we/they have got, he/she/it/John has got. It can't be cast in the past-tense form, or the progressive construction, or in the infinitive or participial form.

There are marked differences in BrE and AmE use. In AmE HAVE got is largely restricted to conversational situations, probably because it was for a long time deprecated as vulgar by US English teachers. It is acceptable in all registers in BrE.

In BrE HAVE got is routinely used in questions and negations:

Have you got any money?
I haven't got a penny.

This is rare in AmE; US speakers tend to revert to the ordinary HAVE in these contexts:

Do you have any money?
I don't have a penny.

The distinction may be attributable to the AmE preference for gotten as the past participle of get, where BrE speakers prefer got: BrE treat HAVE got as a sort of idiomatized perfect. This analysis is supported by the fact that ain't got is fairly ordinary, and by the growing frequency of bare got, without the HAVE, in AmE:

You got any spare cash? We gotta get some gas.
Yeah, I got plenty, I'll buy.

Colloquial AmE, it appears, is coming to regard got as the core of the expression and HAVE as a dispensable ornament.

The descriptions of AmE use rest on my own analysis of the UCSB corpus of spoken English. In conversational contexts I found 545 instances of indicative have/has and 158 instances of DO have, against 171 instances of HAVE got, all indicative, and 90 instances of bare got. In non-conversational contexts I found 167 instance of have/has/DO have and only 4 instances of HAVE got.


There is nothing stupid about your question. "I've got" for "I have" is acceptable idiomatic usage, but it is not used exclusively for possession of physical objects. One can say, for example, "I've got a good relationship with my co-workers," or, "I've got a girlfriend now," or, as you pointed out, "I've got something to say."


Whenever the verb "to have" is used alone in a sentence in the present tense (i.e. not as an auxiliary verb such as "I have eaten 5 doughnuts"), you can replace it with "have got" which can be shortened like "I've got".

So all the following are fine:

  • I have got something to say. (I have something to say.)
  • I have got nothing more to say. (I have nothing more to say.)
  • I have got the best idea. (I have the best idea.)
  • I haven't got a car. (I don't have a car.)

But the following cannot be changed, without also changing the meaning of the sentence.

  • I have walked 500 miles. (auxiliary verb)
  • I have been here for ages. (auxiliary verb of 'to be')
  • I will have chemistry tomorrow. (future tense)
  • I was having lunch earlier. (imperfect tense)

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