In BrE the past participle of get is in most cases got, while in AmE it is almost always gotten.

Does that imply that in the context of BrE "have/has got" is a genuine perfect construction, whereas in AmE it is just a standalone phrase?

  • 1
    Can you clarify what criteria you're interested in for a "genuine perfect construction"? (Or is learning about what criteria linguists use for this part of your question, perhaps?) It seems clear that "have/has got" is morphologically formed in the same way as a "perfect" verb in English. Do you want to know if there are syntactic features (like word-order or pronoun position) or semantic features (like the meaning of the expression) that differentiate it from normal perfect verbs?
    – herisson
    May 13, 2015 at 8:02
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    Related and possible duplicate:english.stackexchange.com/questions/120721/…
    – user66974
    May 13, 2015 at 8:10
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    The OP seems to be under the mistaken impression that "in AmE it [the past participle of get] is almost always gotten", which is repeated on many (unfortunately useless) grammar sites online, and in occasional answers here. This is not correct. The analysis is complicated, as I've pointed out, and there isn't any simple answer. More than two words and far more than two constructions are involved. May 13, 2015 at 15:48
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    In the U.S., many people say "I've got the tickets, don't I?" but "I've gotten the tickets, haven't I?" This seems to mean that "have got" is not a genuine perfect construction in the U.S., at least for these people. But does this mean it's a genuine perfect construction for Americans who say "I've got the tickets, haven't I?" May 14, 2015 at 1:50
  • 1
    We are told to count on verbs becoming more regular, so I'm going to declare both sides of the pond should settle on getted.
    – stevesliva
    Jun 12, 2015 at 5:52

2 Answers 2


It is a known fact that the present perfect of some verbs can develop semantically and take over the sense of a present tense. There are some such cases in Latin and there is a term for this phenomenon: preterite-presents.

If you have got a letter, the consequence is you have a letter. This is the way how a grammatical perfect can adopt the sense of present tense. This phenomenon can be found in a lot of languages.



I think this is an example of drift, in the same way as past participles that are very commonly used in passive voice (worried, scared, amazed, etc.) have come to be considered adjectives in their own right. It would seem reasonable to suppose that as 'have/has got' when used for possessions adds nothing to the meaning of simply 'have/has' that at some point in the past this construction was originally used in its perfect sense and then use became extended for emphasis (perhaps when something was difficult to come by). Nowadays if we say, "I've got the tickets," this can have both senses ('I have been to get the tickets, and now I have got them'; and 'I have the tickets'). Of course, philosophically we could say that somehow both meanings are always true, after all, we are born with our hands empty, so everything we now 'have' we must 'have got' at some point since our birth!

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