I don't clearly understand the meaning of "I have got __" in sentences like the following one:

I have got to get.

Is it a sentence using the past tense, or the present? What does it mean?


2 Answers 2


It is an auxiliary verb with the the same meaning as "must". Here is what dictionary.com says:

auxiliary verb
2. Informal . must; have got  (followed by an infinitive). 

So, in your example, the meaning is "I must get..." Note, it is used with "have" which again is an auxiliary meaning "must", and I can't think of an example of where you could use "get" in this way without "have". But perhaps I am wrong about that. In this case, using both adds an emphasis to the importance of the "getting".

Note, as the dictionary says it is pretty informal, and should not be used in any type of formal communication.

  • Quite often, you hear "I got to get ..." for "I must get ..." in the U.S. But it's considered bad grammar. Oct 10, 2011 at 23:52
  • how should I pronounce the contraction I've got. I am spanish speaker, sometimes I pronounce just "I" and "I've" because I don't know how this small particle "'ve" sounds.
    – armando
    Oct 11, 2011 at 2:40
  • "I've" sounds like "drive" or "strive", or the adjective "live". (not like "give" or the verb "live").
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 11, 2011 at 13:34
  • 1
    Like Colin said, "I've" rhymes with "hive." FWIW, it is common in casual speech (though not in writing) to pronounce "got to" as "gotta", as in "I've gotta get...", and in fact it is quite common to elide the contraction and say "I gotta get...". Like I say not for anything less than them most colloquial and casual conversation, and certainly not for writing, but you will certainly hear it from native English speakers.
    – Fraser Orr
    Oct 11, 2011 at 14:26

Have got means "must".

  • We've got to (must) pull our troops from Iraq.
  • I've got to get to the wedding on time.
  • — How much change do you have in your pocket?
    — I have fifty cents in my pocket. [Not "I've got fifty cents in my pocket."]
  • I’m not sure where you may have gotten that idea from, but it isn’t right. Saying “I’ve got 50¢ in my pocket” is just fine. It’s just that “I’ve got one thing to say” sounds a lot less formal and straight-laced than “I have one thing to say” does. There is nothing wrong with such usage. The version that is not considered Standard English is the one that deletes the auxiliary, rendering it “I got one thing to say”. This is considered rustically ungrammatical, but is hardly uncommon.
    – tchrist
    Apr 7, 2013 at 0:07

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