Which should we use: “have” or “have got”?
Learners often want to know if have and have got are the same. They want to know which of the two they should use and if they are interchangeable. ”Can we use either one of them whenever we want?” they ask.
The answer is that have and have got are the same in meaning when we want to express possession of something. And, yes, they are very often interchangeable.
There are, however, some important differences in grammar and usage between have and have got.
This is what you should remember if you decide to use have got:
1. Have got is for spoken English
- Use have got in spoken English.
- Use have in your formal written English (business correspondence, etc.).
If you are writing an informal message to your friends—on Facebook, for example—have got is fine.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with using have instead of have got in spoken English.
2. Use contractions with have got
If you want to use have got when you speak, remember that you must use contractions (short forms) where possible. Don’t use the full forms. You should say:
- I’ve got
- I haven’t got
- he’s got
- he hasn’t got, etc.
Some more examples of contractions with have got are:
we’ve got; we haven’t got; everyone’s got; it’s got; it hasn’t got; they’ve got, etc.
3. Different question and negative forms
With have got we don’t use helping verbs such as do and don’t to form questions and negatives.
For questions, we simply invert the subject and have or has, as follows:
positive: you’ve got
question: have you got?
positive: he’s got
question: has he got?
For negatives, we put not (n’t) after have or has, as follows:
positive: you’ve got
negative: you haven’t got
positive: she’s got
negative: she hasn’t got.
4. Have got only in the present
Have got only exists in the present simple tense. We don’t use it in the continuous, past or future tenses.
present simple tense: He’s got a problem.
past simple tense: He had a problem.
future simple: He’ll have a problem.
5. When we cannot use have got
When have is a substitute word for another verb, we cannot interchange it with have got. For example, instead of take a shower we sometimes say have a shower, or instead of eat lunch we say have lunch. In these cases, we cannot use have got:
- I have lunch at 12 o’clock.
I’ve got lunch
- I have a shower every day.
I’ve got a shower
If we say ”I’ve got a shower”, we are saying that we own a shower or that there is a shower in the house.