What's the difference between "have" and "have got" to express possession?


  1. I have a pen.
  2. I have got a pen.
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    – RegDwigнt
    Mar 28, 2014 at 14:04

1 Answer 1


The to have in both sentences is not really the same verb. Rather a homonym (or more accurately secondary meanings) of the same verb.

I can better illustrate the difference by showing the equivalent translation into a Romance language ...

Do you have a car?

Have is a verb meaning to possess. If translating you would use tener in Spanish. (Less so in Italian, where you might use tenere, but would likely use avere instead.) Tener in Spanish means to possess.

Have you got a car?

Have is an auxiliary verb forming the present perfect tense. We would translate this sense of have into Spanish using haber, not tener. Again, Italian would use avere. (Although, to be honest taken as a phrase I would translate to both languages as if it were the first question and ignore the present progressive. A professional translator would likely preserve the tense as above, though.)

Got is the participle of to get. So the question is Did you acquire a car (at some point)? The effective meaning becomes Do you possess a car.

  • 1
    Some people consider auxiliaries a separate word-class from verbs. Mar 28, 2014 at 15:40

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