English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In British English negative questions with the verb have (when it's a lexical verb and not an auxiliary) can be formed in two ways. Is there any difference between them?

Type 1

  • Haven't I got your number?
  • Haven't you got her number?
  • Hasn't he got your number?
  • Haven't we got her number?
  • Haven't they got our number?

Type 2

  • Don't I have your number?
  • Don't you have her number?
  • Doesn't he have your number?
  • Don't we have her number?
  • Don't they have our number?
share|improve this question
You can do the same thing in American English. My impression is that Type 1 is slightly preferred in British English and type 2 in American English. – Peter Shor Nov 15 '11 at 12:01
I think there is a general sense of unease with the word "got" instilled by grammar police when we are young, @PeterShor. – JeffSahol Nov 15 '11 at 12:35
You are both right, although I'd say Type 1 was rather more than 'slightly' preferred in BrEng. – Barrie England Nov 15 '11 at 17:47
Of course there's always a third option (well strictly speaking a reordering of the first): Have I not got your number? / Have you not got her number? – sjwarner Nov 15 '11 at 22:03
up vote 2 down vote accepted

At school in the UK in the 70's and 80's, we were always taught that "get" and "got" were very lazy and ugly-sounding verbs to use, and that there was nearly always a better alternative. So people of my generation would probably tend to prefer the "Don't I have" variations, at least in formal speech, even though they're all grammatically correct.

share|improve this answer

I'm not really sure, but I suppose that the first form is preferred when you have the number as a result of some kind of recent action, and the second may mean that you have it for a long time already. In US, as far as I know, the meaning of the first form is usually virtually the same as of the second one.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.