According to what I was taught as school, the past tense of 'get' is 'got' and 'gotten' is "an American corruption and, therefore, is not a proper word".


"Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?"
— opening lines for Auld Lang Syne

Note that this is not as follows, which seems to be popular usage:

"Should auld acquaintance be forgotten,
And never brought to mind?"


1 Answer 1


From Sarah Woodbury's website: Romance and Fantasy in Medieval Wales

On the use of the word ‘gotten’

Several UK readers have wondered about the use of the word ‘gotten’ in my medieval mysteries. Since the word is not in common usage in England right now, it seems odd to them to read it at all, and a glaring ‘Americanism’ in a book set in the medieval period. At first glance, this might appear to be yet another instance of ‘two countries separated by a common language,’ but as it turns out, the history of the word ‘gotten’ is a lot more interesting than that.

‘Gotten’ is, in fact, an ancient English word that was in use in England at the time America was colonized by the English. Over the centuries, the Americans kept on using it and the English did not.

Origin: 1150-1200(v.) Middle English geten < Old Norse geta to obtain, beget; cognate with Old English –gietan (> Middle English yeten), German-gessen, in vergessen to forget; (noun) Middle English: something gotten, offspring, derivative of the v.

The British author quotes from reference.dot.com, whose the page is now obsolete.

“British English discontinued the use of “have gotten” as a form of the past participle for “get” over 300 years ago. […]. It is now rarely used in the British version of the English language. American English continues to use “have gotten” to emphasis the action performed. In American English language “has got” implies possession. It is assumed that if “has got” is used that it is referencing what the person has in their possession. On the other hand, “has gotten” implies that the person acquired, received or obtained an item.”

In brief, gotten is a perfectly legitimate word with a long and glorious history.

  • 1
    Additional relevant link: Oxford English Dictionary states the following: "As past participles of get, got and gotten both date back to Middle English. The form gotten is not used in British English but is very common in North American English." Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 19:54
  • Here's another interesting link. It's a Google ngram comparing the two words in AmE and BrE. I'll let others draw their own conclusions. books.google.com/ngrams/… Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 21:22
  • Ah, the pioneering spirit of the Brits at work. Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 22:02

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