In a forum I frequent there are many times that contractions are used in a way that's unusual, and many users find to be ungrammatical:

"I've to" etc.

To me it's not ungrammatical but it sounds both old-fashioned and like something you might hear in certain rural areas of England, but I don't know where.

Do some of our English experts here have more information on who uses or used this structure? Which region or regions and which age groups etc?

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    It is not something that I associate with any particular region of Britain, nor to say that it is more associated with e.g. "the north". But I think it has become dated. I don't think it is heard as much as it once was. But that's just my subjective impression.
    – WS2
    Feb 18, 2018 at 10:39
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    I'd say 'I've to be at the station by 11' sounds less unnatural than 'I've to bleed the radiators before the central heating engineer comes on Thursday'. Feb 18, 2018 at 11:01
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    I would say 'I've got to' is more idiomatic than 'I've to'. Ngram indicates similar - books.google.com/ngrams/… (Link is playing up - click on 'search') I have heard 'I've to' but it is very rare and I cannot remember where I have heard it.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 18, 2018 at 14:35
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    I've never heard it spoken; it's unknown in the US, where the have of have to is stressed, and thus not contracted. My guess would be that the forums you refer to are full of non-native speakers who are following "rules" they were taught by non-native teachers. There's a great deal of that around, as anyone can tell by looking at the questions posted here. Feb 18, 2018 at 18:09
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    @JohnLawler It certainly was idiomatic to native British speakers, as evidenced by the fact that both Edwin and I recognised it. But then both he and I are fairly "long in the tooth". It also extended to such as "He's to see his aunt on Sunday". But that means "He is to..."
    – WS2
    Feb 21, 2018 at 22:57

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately I don't have any evidence past my own experience but I am 28 and I lived in the South of England until I was 18 and then moved to Scotland. I have heard "I've to" infrequently in England and never in Scotland. I would personally associate it with old fashioned but informal language.

  • adding your research makes your answer better. Without it may be further reviewed
    – lbf
    Mar 12, 2018 at 11:57

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