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Which is the correct way of saying this in English?

  • I haven't got any money.
  • I don't have any money.

If both are correct, which is the difference between them?

marked as duplicate by tchrist word-choice Sep 1 '18 at 22:18

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Both are grammatical and both mean the same thing. Corpora show that the first is more frequent than the second in British English, but that American English has an overwhelming preference for the second.

  • Yeah, well I don't buy that corpora business at all. Especially since "Ýou got any money" is actually a shortening of "have you got any money". Does the corpora count that? There are just two ways to say possession in English in the present simple tense. – Lambie Sep 1 '18 at 21:51
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The only way to say this was once a very simple one:

I haven't any money.

You can still say this today, but it sounds very formal because it is so old-fashioned. The reason this has fallen out of use is that for a long time now, English has required do support when negating any verb other than those on a short list that doesn't even include do itself (have, be, will, may, ...).

Technically, have is on the list. But it is now understood to be there only because it is an auxiliary. When you use have to express possession, it is not an auxiliary but a full verb. It seems inappropriate or awkward to grant it the privilege of negation without do support when it acts as a full verb.

There are two widespread strategies for avoiding this awkwardness:

  1. When have acts as a full verb, treat it like every other full verb and use do support: "I don't have any money." This logical solution has become the standard in American English.
  2. As the role of have as an auxiliary has become dominant and its function as a full verb has moved into the background, use another full verb instead: get or have got. (I guess this started with have got, but now get is also often heard on its own with this meaning - especially in ambiguous contexts in which the original meaning of get would also fit.) Now it's clear how to negate: "I haven't got any money." This solution is still very widespread in British English. Note that similar phenomena have occurred in other languages as well. E.g. Spanish tener (original meaning hold) now fills the gap that was left when haber (have) became an auxiliary only.

Both ways of negating have are perfectly good English. As far as I can tell, people have a preference for one style or the other depending on where they grew up, but nobody seems to select between them to express any fine nuances of meaning. In fact, there don't seem to be any.

  • Good answer. Note that another strategy is to say "I have no money." – Alan Nov 10 '17 at 3:32
  • Why bother with I haven't any money when the issue is not that? – Lambie Sep 1 '18 at 21:53
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    I would note that the acceptability of this use of "haven't" is varies, from being "very formal, old-fashioned" in British English, to what I would say is outright ungrammatical in American English. The only way to negate "have" as a main verb in American English is with do-support ("do not/don't have"). – nohat Sep 1 '18 at 21:54
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I haven't got any money.

I don't have any money.

Both are grammatically correct.

People in some countries use the first one and some people use the second one. So it's better to know both ways in order to speak to everyone. But some native speakers will say "I haven't any money" which is informal English, so if someone says it like that you have to keep in mind that it means "I haven't got any money".

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In English English it is standard to use "I haven't got". English English, that is English spoken by the English not the Americans, therefore is a purer form of the language.

  • That is simply not true. Where do people get these notions? There are two forms to have: have/have got in the simple present. One thing is sure: have got is spoken. And not necessarily British at all. – Lambie Sep 1 '18 at 21:54

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