I have heard that in American English, if I say "have got", the American would think that I am not educated as it should be "have gotten", yet I heard Americans said this in lots of movies. So is the phrase "have got" ok to use for the Americans?

  • 2
    It will depend on a bit more context, could you please add some examples. Whether or not people will take the time to wonder if you are educated will depend on the person you are speaking to.
    – Peter
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 15:43
  • 1
    "I have heard that in American English, if I say "have got", the American would think that I am not educated" - where did you hear this? I hear "have got" all the time, and it doesn't imply anything about education to me. I mean, I've got a whole list of things I'm biased about, but that's not one of them. It is true that "have got" seems to be getting less common over time, though.
    – stangdon
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 16:03
  • 2
    I have got to stop wasting so much time at SE. Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 18:45
  • 1
    Note: "Have got to" is a common expression meaning "I need to".
    – DJMcMayhem
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 19:30
  • Perhaps ironically, if a foreigner used have got (or any of the "slang" versions of get), I'm usually impressed since it's such a broadly used term, but tends to be hard for foreigners to understand well I think. But generally, "have got" is fine! (See @mkennedy's answer)
    – BruceWayne
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 21:26

3 Answers 3


Have got can mean, simply, have (as in possess). This is especially true for British English (BrE). Note that with this meaning, have got is usually contracted to 've got.

Have got is also the BrE present perfect of get, which in American English (AmE) is have gotten.

But there's a lot of uses that crossover from North America to the UK and vice versa, so these distinctions are not as strict as before. (Younger BrE speakers sometimes use American pronunciations of some words such as schedule.)

Still, in AmE we prefer gotten as the participle (have gotten, had gotten) and got may seem "uneducated" to some Americans or even "incorrect" on a test of AmE; it depends on the test-writers. In BrE have got, had got are standard.

  • 3
    The "__'ve got" formulation almost always means "have", while a "gotten" form really does mean "received at some point in the past" but does not necessarily imply current possession, especially in the "had gotten" form. Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 19:27
  • I agree with Monty, the main issue with this answer is that in many cases this replacement doesn't work. If you say "I have a cold" that has a different meaning from "I've gotten a cold", it would instead be correctly changed to "I've got a cold". "gotten" implies past tense, "got" implies present tense
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 21:30
  • "In the case of have, especially, if one comments on the acquisition of something, the implicature is that one still has it -- otherwise, one would say something different. So the present perfect of get naturally implicates the present of "have", leading to the equivalence of have got and have.John Lawler Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 22:51
  • For me, if it's not contracted, it sounds weird/wrong... that's why mentioning it is useful. I'd say either "I've got an apple" or "I have an apple" but never "I have got an apple".
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 22:51
  • @Catija I've mentioned the contracted version now. I didn't at first because Ook specifically asks about the non-contracted form. And we certainly use it in questions ('Have you got any sevens?') and in exclamations ('Have I got some news for you!') and in emphasis ('Yes, I have got an apple'). Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 23:00

This question and AlanCarmack's answer has gotten me to think about when I use "have/had got" and "have/had gotten." I grew up in the USA Midwest, plus 20 years in a heterogenous southern California area.

I do use "have got" for possession, but almost always with "have" contracted, "I've got." For instance,

"I have got a cold." / "I've got a cold."
"I've got a hankering for sushi."
"I've got blue suede shoes on."
"I've got $30 in my wallet."

I use "have gotten" with a sense of motion or action--at least that's how I describe it.

"I've gotten over my cold."
"I've gotten into the car."
"I've gotten on my blue suede shoes."
"I've gotten $30 from Mary for the gift."

  • 3
    I think the main reason for this usage is that you could say, "I have a cold", but once you contract it, the sentence sounds wrong, "I've a cold", so to fix that, we put another word that makes the meaning clear again, in this case "got".
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 21:27
  • 1
    You forgot "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts". ;)
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 22:45
  • @KevinWells and everyone, I highly suggest you read this ELU answer by linguistic John Lawler, who explains what lies behind I've got a cold and the whole issue of have got*/*have gotten. Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 13:18

American English prefers have gotten over have got specifically in the case of using to get as an auxiliary verb to express the passive voice.

verbal auxiliary

used with the past participle of transitive verbs as a passive voice auxiliary

they got caught in the act

(copied from: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/get):

In other words, when to get is used to mean that another action has happened to you, AmE uses have/had gotten and BrE uses have/had got


I have gotten passed on the interstate many times

He had gotten punched.


I have got passed on the motorway many times.

He had got punched.

You must log in to answer this question.

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