Has he not got his new bicycle?

Have you not got your book yet?

I think that the above ones are the same as these in informal context:

Hasn't he got his new bicycle?

Haven't you got your book yet?

  • 4
    At school, we were told (50 years ago) (UK) to avoid the word 'got' as 'being rather uncouth' (the wit of the teacher, "Never use 'get' - get another word!" ensured it stuck). The word is overused, but is also very useful. In a refined register, or perhaps that should be precious, one could say 'Has he not received his new bicycle?' ('Has he not brought his new bicycle?' is fine) etc. But I can't imagine many settings where I'd choose to avoid any of your four versions. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 29 '13 at 23:30
  • @EdwinAshworth: I don't disagree; but, answering the question in the title, I would say, "no, those sentences are not quite formal". – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Aug 29 '13 at 23:58
  • I say all are fine in formal context (in American English). – user31341 Aug 30 '13 at 1:24
  • I'll make sure only to be formal in the US then. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 30 '13 at 12:45
  • Have you still not come in possession of your book? :) Legalese. ^__^ – Talia Ford Sep 29 '13 at 0:12

You would actually want to use the word 'gotten'. I would still say that it borders on the informal. Rather, I would use something more along the lines of:

Has he not received his new bicycle?

Have you not had a chance to acquire your book?

Have you not aquired your book?

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    Perhaps you speak like an American. They usually use "gotten" instead of "got". But the verb in case is "to have got", not the verb "to have" and "to get". It is the Present Tense I'm talking about not the Present Perfect :) – user36663 Aug 29 '13 at 23:20
  • user36663: That is a difference I was unaware of. I am American and to me using 'got' in this context isn't quite alien, but I would have considered it uneducated. Thank you for the insight! – Jacobm001 Aug 29 '13 at 23:23
  • @user36663: that is most certainly incorrect. It would be "doesn't he have his new bicycle" – Jacobm001 Aug 29 '13 at 23:32
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    Jacob and user36663, Americans use the word 'gotten' a lot. British people normally only use it when saying ill-gotten or forgotten. – Tristan Aug 30 '13 at 11:35
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    The question specifically asked about "British English". As Tristan says, "gotten" is not in common usage as a part tense of "got" in BrE - and most certainly not "in a formal context" as specified in the question. – TrevorD Aug 30 '13 at 12:05

Generally avoid use of the word 'got' in the context of having.

He has a bicycle

this implies he owns or is holding a bicycle. Whereas

He got a bicycle

states he undertook the action of retrieving a bicycle, but may no longer have it.

A useful way to remember the difference is:

I have a coffee, the barista got it for me

In your case it's unclear whether you're asking if he/you got the bicycle/book (for you), or whether he has the bicycle/book.

By rephrasing the statement correctly you can clarify the statements as:

Does he have his new bicycle?

Do you have your book yet?


Did he get his new bicycle?

Did you get your book yet?

These both have the additional benefit of removing the unnecessary negative.

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