I'm a native english speaker and "you've got a friend in me" sounds correct to me but I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what kind of construction it is. Can anyone shed light on this?

  • 1
    "in me" is a prepositional phrase modifying "friend". 'You" is the subject, "have got" is the verb, "friend" is the object.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 22 '19 at 11:37
  • "What a friend we have in Jesus" is the name of a well-known hymn. Aug 22 '19 at 11:49
  • You buy a home in London. You find comfort in ice cream. You have a friend in me. Aug 22 '19 at 12:24

As a guest on Grammar Girl’s blog (https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/is-have-got-acceptable-english), Bonnie Trenga explained, “The phrases ‘has got’ and ‘have got’ are somewhat informal and are often contracted, as in ‘He’s got’ and ‘They’ve got.’ Although this expression has long been criticized as an unnecessary substitution for the verb ‘to have,’ it is perfectly idiomatic. It simply adds emphasis.” The emphasis is useful in song lyrics: “You have a friend in me” would have been OK in Randy Newman’s song, but got lends itself to being accented better than have does. Carole King made the same choice in her song “You’ve Got a Friend.”

  • I like your explanation a lot more than Bonnie Trenga's. "I've got ten dollars" is no more emphatic than "I have ten dollars." But the difference in prosody makes the phrase worth keeping.
    – Juhasz
    Aug 22 '19 at 15:36
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    Grammar Girl is an American, and her column is generally about American English. In fact this column specifically says that have got is more common in the U.K. than in America. It's not frowned on in the U.K. any more than it is in the U.S. Aug 22 '19 at 15:40
  • Got is definitely not "frowned upon" in the UK, for casual or informal speech. Aug 22 '19 at 18:44
  • Lynne Murphy is an American-born linguist living and teaching in the UK. I'm just reporting what she said.
    – Literalman
    Aug 22 '19 at 19:32
  • Well, her being an "American-born linguist" gives her no particular authority, and it seems she is capable of getting it wrong. "You've got" is actually more common in casual British English than in US English. Aug 22 '19 at 21:41

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