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Considering the modal verbs "Have to" and "Have got to" to express in certainty the state of someone/something. Are the following forms syntactically correct:

Present:
sub + has/have + [got] to be + [complement]
Ex: That has [got] to be the right restaurant.

Past (A):
sub + has/have + [got] to have been + [complement]
Ex: That has [got] to have been the right restaurant.

Past (B):
sub + had [got] to be + [complement]
Ex: That had [got] to be the right restaurant.

Past (C):
sub + had [got] to have been + [complement]
Ex: That had [got] to have been the right restaurant.

[got] means to switch between Have to & Have got to

[complement] can be any valid complement to the sentence; "object", "adjective"..etc

Considering the past forms. Are past (A), (B) & (C) correct?, and if so, are they equivalent?
If "Yes"; are there any differences?
If "No"; what are the differences?

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  • What do you intend by the parentheticals in your examples? In A, for instance, the sentence is correct with or without the word "got." In B and C, however, the sentence is incorrect when "got" is included. Please rephrase your question to make it easier to understand. By the way, if you use the modal verb "must" instead of have/got constructions to express compulsion or certainty, you will avoid many problems, e.g.: "That must have been the right restaurant." An added benefit: you will avoid the longstanding AmE/BE disagreements over got/have got, gotten, etc. Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 2:39
  • @P.E.Dant - [got] means to switch between have to & have got to while [adjective] means it is not necessary to be "adjective" in that any valid complement that make sense is OK.
    – Saleh Feek
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 2:40
  • @P.E.Dant That has [got] to be cold. -> adjective, but the syntax is not confined to adjectives.
    – Saleh Feek
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 2:45
  • @P.E.Dant I have edited it with a good description.
    – Saleh Feek
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 2:52

1 Answer 1

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In the US, where the past participle of get is usually gotten rather than got, HAVE got is not treated as a perfect. Whether used as an auxiliary or as a lexical verb, it appears only in the present tense, have got/'ve got and has got/'s got. In past form and in questions and negations, bare HAVE is almost invariably used, with the usual do support.

(Perhaps even more interesting: have got is increasingly reduced to the bare got we see in Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm". And especially in AAVE it's become even more strongly de-grammaticised: we now find I don't got... and Do he got...?)

Usage in the UK, where the past participle of get is usually got, HAVE got appears to have for many people a 'perfect' feel; the HAVE piece is (not invariably but certainly routinely) treated as an auxiliary in questions and negations, inverted rather than do-supported, and it occasionally shows up in past-tense form.

(My impression, however (and it's no more than that), is that the quasi-perfect uses of HAVE got are declining in British usage, too.)

So I'd say that your had got sentences are unacceptable in the US, and at best marginal in the UK. The rest are fine.


It's also worth remarking that even excluding questions and negations, HAVE got is far less common in the US than the UK. There's a long pedagogical tradition of stomping on HAVE got in the US, so it's pretty rare in formal texts. My own quick-and-dirty survey of the UCSB spoken corpus suggests that in casual speech HAVE got is strongly gender-linked, used mostly by men among themselves; even men use it comparatively little when women are part of the discourse group. But I have to admit that the corpus is small and in many respects unrepresentative.

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  • Your answer gave me nice information about how correct and how spread those forms are, but could you tell me the differences between them and especially in which situation should I use each?.
    – Saleh Feek
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 7:43
  • And yet, a long time ago in Mark Twain's country: "My heart broke, for it was plain that I had got to learn this troublesome river both ways." (Life on the Mississippi)
    – Jacinto
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 11:13
  • @Jacinto "A long time ago", as you say - 130+ years. Commented Aug 18, 2019 at 12:38

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