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I know there are a lot of meanings to the verb "get", so I am unable to understand which one is used in the following sentence:

They had a baby which was different, so it got to live.

I know that "get to" can be:

  • allowed to,
  • have a chance to, or
  • become (eventually)

But neither works for me. Maybe the first one would make sense. Or should it be "have got to"? That would make sense, but I thought I had to use it with "have".

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Is this phrase from South Park? :)) About the retarded fish-frog? – Armen Ծիրունյան May 13 '12 at 14:58
Seems like something one would go to a dictionary for. – tchrist May 13 '12 at 15:43

Your first idea already matches perfectly.

They had a baby which was different, so it got to live.

This could be written as:

They had a baby which was different, so it had a chance to live.

"have got" indicates possession of some sort, so in this case it doesn't apply. The baby can not "possess" the verb "living". You can only possess something. In this case, you could of course use "chance to" as the noun here:

They had a baby which was different, so it had gotten a chance to live.

However, this sounds way too complicated in my opinion.

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Thanks, I meant "have got" used as "must". I think in US English, "have got to live" could be said as "got to live", couldnt it? – Pietro May 13 '12 at 14:54
Oh, I see. In that case, that doesn't apply either. Do you mean, the baby must have gotten the chance to live because it was different? I guess it depends on the context here, but I'd say this is a very specialized interpretation. – slhck May 13 '12 at 14:55
@Pietro No, it couldn’t. “I got to live” is substandard. – tchrist May 13 '12 at 15:43
@tchrist In writing, perhaps, it would be substandard, with I've got to live as standard. However, in actual spoken English, the intervoxcalic [vɡ] cluster is almost never pronounced; the [v] drops and we get I got; in fact, we get I gotta; this idiom is always followed by an infinitive, since it's a modal paraphrase and works like must. – John Lawler May 13 '12 at 16:13

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