This word got has been confusing me for a long time. Is it against the rules of English grammar, because got is the past tense of get? Why do I never hear people say it this way:

I get to go now.

  • Because “I’ve got to go now” means something else.
    – tchrist
    Mar 25, 2013 at 13:38
  • 3
    You can say “I get to go now”, but it means that it’s my turn, not some obligation.
    – tchrist
    Mar 25, 2013 at 13:48
  • You can also say "I get to go now" if, say, you are being held by the police and they haven't charged or arrested you. You can also ask if you may be permitted to leave by saying, "Do I get to go now?"
    – Robusto
    Mar 25, 2013 at 15:14

4 Answers 4


In this case "got" implies an obligation.

"I have got to go now."

The above sentence states that a person -must- leave.

"I get to go now."

The above sentence states that a person -may- leave.

A great blog post on this topic can be found here, referencing OED, Merriam-Webster, and The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.


"I got to go [somewhere]."

The sentence above states that a person was able to go [somewhere] previously.

"I get to go ["somewhere]."

The sentence above states that a person will be able to go [somewhere] in the future.

  • Good ans. can you please include some references if you may.
    – camelbrush
    Mar 25, 2013 at 13:40

Because I got to go is the colloquial form for I have got to go. It should not be used in a formal manner. The have got(in this case) is used to show necessity or obligation. Saying, have got is a little stronger than saying, must.

  • 1
    "I got to go" is the past tense of "I get to go", where get is "to succeed, become enabled, or be permitted." I have rarely if ever heard someone say "I got to go" when they mean "I must go" or "I have to go". But I have heard "I gotta go" (common colloquial) and "I gots to go" (street slang) to mean "I must go". Mar 25, 2013 at 14:47
  • "I gotta go" is simply an informal spelling (and pronunciation) of "I got to go", which is a colloquial form of "I have got to go" or of "I have to go".
    – Cmillz
    Mar 26, 2013 at 2:56

While @dotsamuelswan posted a great discussion, he does not directly answer the question: "Why do I never hear people say..."?

I DO say this, and I have heard it said, usually when able to leave a boring meeting prior to the meeting getting over.

But you don't hear it said often because it is somewhat rude, implying something like, "Ha! You have to sit in this rotten meeting, while I am free as a bird!"


"I got to go" can be a variation of "I gotta go" which means "I'm going to go"

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