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My student asked me the following question today.

"I've noticed that more people use past tense for where we should use perfect past tense Is that right? e.g. I've got, I've learned"

I asked "Ah, you mean why people don't say "I have gotten" or "I have learnt" instead?" and he replied with "Yeah, but some people still use perfect past tense. I wanted to know why".

I'm thinking of replying with "As for "get", both "gotten" and "got" are perfect past tense in the following sentences: "I have got" and "I have gotten" This mainly comes down to the difference between British and American English. "

Would this be correct or am I misunderstanding the grammar here?

  • The difference between "learnt" and "learned" is dialectal. Either one can be used as the past participle and past tense; I suppose some people may use one as the past-tense form and the other as the past-participle form, but that's not a standard pattern of usage as far as I know. You can see a prior question about "learnt" vs. "learned" on the linked page; as you can see, none of the answers mentions distinguishing these forms based on whether the word is a participle. – sumelic Apr 6 '18 at 5:28
  • The difference between "got" and "gotten" is more complicated. "Gotten" is only used as past-participle form, but in all dialects the past-participle form is at least sometimes "got". It's true that "got" is used more in British English--I believe that British English speakers are generally described as not using "gotten" at all, although this may not be entirely true--but the expression "I've got" is also used in American English and does not mean the same thing as "I've gotten". See here: Difference between “I have got” and “I have gotten” – sumelic Apr 6 '18 at 5:29
  • BrE speakers do not use 'gotten'; it sounds archaic to us, like 'thee and thou'. – Kate Bunting Apr 6 '18 at 8:01
  • Check in a dictionary (or, for better coverage, two: one more 'AmE'-oriented, eg AHD, and one more 'BrE'-orientated, eg Collins) to see what the available verb-forms are. 'I have learned/learnt' are both present perfect, for instance. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 6 '18 at 9:27

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