The US usage of 'got'

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Blue_UK, Mar 29, 2007.

  1. D H Some other guy Valued Senior Member

    The use of "have got" adds emphasis. "Have got" is not in the past. It is present or future tense. If you want past, you have got to use had. (Had got sounds icky. Americans use had gotten, although that modifies things a bit.)

    In the sense of "possession", it follows the form of has.
    Present: Have I got news for you! "Have got" is valid English.
    (Note how this is a lot more emphatic than "Have I news for you!")

    In the sense of "must", "have got" can be future or future perfect:
    Future: You've got to be on time for the show tonight!
    Future perfect: English has got to be the hardest language in the world to understand!

    Edited to add:
    "Have got" is an idiom. There is little sense in idioms in any language.
    "Have got to" is a modal. Modals are nasty in any language. Moreover, "have got to" is an idiomatic modal.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2007
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  3. G. F. Schleebenhorst England != UK Registered Senior Member


    They've just forgotten "I've" is what they're really saying, so instead of "I've got" they say "I got". Just many years of ill-education I suppose. They do the same with "seen", although so do ignorant people all over the world.
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  5. G. F. Schleebenhorst England != UK Registered Senior Member

    "I have got a car" and "I've got a car" are exactly the same sentence. "I've" is a contraction of "I have" in the same way as "can't" is a contraction of "can not". I learned that in school when I was 5.
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  7. tablariddim forexU2 Valued Senior Member

    If someone is talking or if you are writing dialogue, it is perfectly correct to say, "I've got", because it is a phrase in common use. However, if you are just describing something in the third person then it should not be used.

    Example: "They had to get out," NOT "They had got to get out." "They have a car" NOT "They've got a car."

    I should know...I'm a kebabologist PhD, BSc and that.
  8. G. F. Schleebenhorst England != UK Registered Senior Member

    "They've a car" is preferable to "They've got a car?"
  9. D H Some other guy Valued Senior Member

    Appeal to authority, and wrong authority at that. Kebabs??? They've got nothin.

    Two things you shouldn't do with "have got" are past tense and contradiction. "They've got nothin" is incorrect not because I used "they've got" but because I mispelled nothin' and because I used "have got" in a contradictory sense. It would be perfectly fine if I said "Ahh, kebabs. They've got something that grabs me."

    How about "might could"? It is a rare non-native Southerner who can use this phrase properly.
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    In America we never say that as a simple alternative to the more bookish "I have a car." We would use the contraction: "I've got a car." Although the difference is so subtle that it's really silly to be analyzing it in a discussion of colloquial speech.

    You spend the evening with your friends in a bar. You're getting tired of the band playing nothing but 1960s soul music and 1970s disco (perhaps I'm recounting my last experience with a certain band but whatever...). About 1:30am Suzie says, "Hey I just remembered that a really good band is supposed to play at the after-hours club in D.C.. Let's go hear them!" George says, "That's too far to walk and the subway stopped running an hour ago." You say, "Oh crap, we need a car but we all walked here."

    Suddenly Vicky walks out of the restroom and says, "I got a car!"

    It's just a slangy way of expressing emphasis.

    As for the other construction...

    The gang in the office wants to go to lunch together. There are six of us. If we could take one car we can get back in the parking lot, but if we take two cars somebody will have snatched one of the spaces by the time we get back. Everybody seems to have a four-seat Japanese car and it looks like we can't go. I suddenly remember that since I have a dentist appointment after work, I drove my car today: A 4000-pound 1980 Mercedes diesel land yacht which will hold six people without too much discomfort. I turn to the gang and proclaim with great solemnity, "I have got a car."

    It's something I say to build suspense. Everyone begins wondering just exactly what kind of car I have.
    "I have been" is called the present perfect tense. Even I would probably not bother making this point on any other forum, but since it's linguistics.

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    The past perfect is "I had been." (Grammarians also call this the "pluperfect" but it's the same thing.) The future perfect is "I will have been." The conditional perfect is "I would have been."

    The difference between the preterit or simple past tense "I ate" and the present perfect "I have eaten" is not a matter of which activity occurred further in the past. It is the relationship of the activity to the rest of the discourse. The preterit is simply a statement that an activity took place in the past and is completed. The present perfect says that the activity took place in the past but that fact has some impact on the present. "I'm not hungry enough to share that pie with you because I have eaten." "There aren't very many flowers left in my garden because your dog has eaten twelve of them."
    This is not the future perfect. The future perfect of "be" is "You will have been on time."

    "You've got to be on time" is just another colloquial way of saying "You have to be on time" which is just a colloquial way of saying "You must be on time." "Have to" and "have got to" are just used as unnecessarily intricate auxiliary verbs.

    Sometimes these constructions don't make any sense if you take them word-for-word. Look at the standard French way of asking, "What is that?" -- Qu'est-ce que c'est que ça?" A literal translation goes: "What is that which that is which that?" There's a verb missing!
  11. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

    When I don't care, I'll say "I got blahblah". This is when I'm talking to people face-to-face, especially if it's a friend of mine. I would say this is definitely a feature of English as she's spoke in my area. If I must be formal, I would probably be conscious of the possible error in saying "I got blahblah", and I would circumlocute.

    For some reason, I remember that as Qu'est-ce que c'est (ça)?, but then she didn't teach fast enough for me, so she wasn't that great a teacher for me.
  12. valich Registered Senior Member

    "I have got a car" is both redundant and incorrect. The addition of the word "have" can imply a past tense that you got the car in the past, while got implies that you have it now. This is definitely very poor incorrect grammar, similar to saying something like "You ain't aren't going there" or "You ain't not going there." Double redundancy: often used in lowclass slang or in Southern dialects.

    I think the cultural distain for the use of the word "got" is an etiquette issue that must of originated in the unpleasant sound of the word. What are its origins? It is the past participle of get, yet nobody in the upper class proper-etiquette inclined society finds it appropriate. And I was taught to avoid its usage when I grew up in school.
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    "Get"--at least in America--is fast becoming a noise word with too many meanings, just a placeholder for parsing sentences.

    Its primary meaning is not "to have," but "to acquire or seize." Get a life, get some shoes, get the groceries, get an education, get religion, get a dog.

    But it also means "to become." Get sick, get well, get rich, get better, get worse, get smart, get funky, get drunk, get stoned, get out of control.

    It's also used to form participial phrases in an imperative or progressive mode that "to be" does not convery. Get informed, get shot, get robbed, get educated, get screwed, get run down by a truck.

    It also forms idiomatic phrases in which it has no precise meaning. Get along, get together, get away, get around an obstacle, get at the meaning of a word, get with the program, get over a lost love.

    Get off on hip-hop music--how about a meaningless juxtaposition of two opposite prepostions?

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  14. Blue_UK Drifting Mind Valued Senior Member

    Does 'got' imply you have it now?

    "I got a spoon, but sold it last week"

    Clearly there is no spoon.

    I am also still certain, that pluperfect and future perfect imply a slight past-wards movement.

    For example, for the verb 'to be':
    "If you make it to the border, you will be spotted" (future)
    "If you make it to the border, you will have been spotted" (future perfect)

    Clearly, the second sentence implies that the spotting will be in the past in comparison with the referenced time.

    The same is true for the past tense and pluperfect. The pluperfect is more in the past than the referenced time, which is also in the past.

    This is a major diversion. I was just trying to share my complete disgust for the phrase "I got such and such". Especially when it's not really the word 'got', it's 'gar(t)'.
  15. D H Some other guy Valued Senior Member

    Valich alert!

    Redundant: No. The use of "have got" versus merely "have" adds emphasis.
    Incorrect: No. Look it up ("get" usage). You should have a good dictionary on hand. If you don't, what business have you got posting about proper use of language?

    Wrong again. "I've got a car" means "I currently possess a car". Current tense.
    "I got a car" is grammatically incorrect.

    This last paragraph is disdainful.

    Here's a clue: Distain means "to tinge with a different colour from the natural or proper one". Disdain means "to regard or treat with haughty contempt".
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    It's an incorrect expression of the meaning under discussion, but it is not a grammatically incorrect construction. "Get" means "to acquire" or "to receive."

    I got an ad in the mail for that new mall in Virginia so I went shopping there yesterday.
    What did you get?
    I got a new hat, 5 CDs and a book.

    The whole family got tickets to fly down here for Christmas and they showered little Bobby with presents.
    What did he get?
    He got a bunch of clothes, some toys and a new bicycle.

    The tickets to the Killers concert go on sale Saturday, but I got an e-mail from the 9:30 Club yesterday with the password for the pre-sale today.
    Did you get tickets?
    Yes, I got four tickets so you and Suzie can go with us.
  17. Medicine*Woman Jesus: Mythstory--Not History! Valued Senior Member

    M*W: Yes, emphatically, yes!

    1) "I have a car."

    When I hear this, I think the speaker is telling me he has a car, he has the use of a car, or he has a car that he has purchased and has had a while.

    2) "I got a car."

    When I hear someone say this, I don't like it. "I GOT a car,
    is grammatically incorrect.

    3) "I have got a car."

    When I hear this, I hear "I've got a car (with me today so we can go out to lunch). I still don't like it, and I think it's still grammatically incorrect. One might say, "I have already gotten into the car."

    I don't know where you live, but in the innercity barrios of gang territory, and based on the Black dialect of Ebonics, I hear all to often, "I gots a car." There is no such word as "gots." I have the urge to kill when I hear this.
  18. Blue_UK Drifting Mind Valued Senior Member

    Godspeed with you woman. Let no one hold you back on your crusade.
  19. valich Registered Senior Member

    Valich Alert!!!:itold:

    It's ambiguous. "I got a car" can mean that you have it now, or that you obtained it in the past. There are two interpretations of the word "got" in this context; thus, it is not only redundant, but it adds ambiguity: "I got a car yesterday." "I got a car right now."

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  20. Blue_UK Drifting Mind Valued Senior Member

    "I got a car right now".

    how can you use a past tense verb in the present!!

    "You were gay right now!"
  21. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    In a sense it does mean further back in the past. Not in absolute terms, but in relative ones. Relative to past simple.

    I went to the store. I bought a coke.
    I went to the store. I had bought a coke (already) so I just got one of those disgusting hot dogs.

    When you want to talk about a past prior to a past you are primarily working in.
  22. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    This is not grammatically incorrect. Please review my previous post. It is simply incorrect usage. There is a difference. Your own statement is downright false, but that doesn't entitle us to accuse you of using English grammar incorrectly.
    And you're still wrong. It is not grammatically incorrect. Once again, your statement is incorrect but not grammatically so. "Got" is a legitimate past participle of "to get."
    Good grief! We all talk that way to our dogs and our babies! The language we hear in our childhood remains a powerful, if unconscious, memory, which is why the most tight-assed spoilsport "authorities" insist on never speaking "baby talk." My dogs pick it up and use it when they talk back to me; "I just gots to have another boney. Please Poppa please?" So I'm not surprised if children pick it up too. Perhaps these homies are simply channeling a fond memory of their childhood. Who is curmudgeonly enough to suppress that?
    Breakdown of grammatical paradigms is a hallmark of English. Otherwise we'd be saying things like, "Thou shalt not..."

    Do you always say, "If I were interested...", or do you lapse into "If I was interested..."? Do you always say, "You had better spend more time on your homework," or do you omit the "had"?

    It's not as though (notice that "as if" would be incorrect grammar so I hope you never say that) this is a new development. A famous song from the 1930s is titled, "I Got Rhythm."

    Hopefully, in a couple of centuries (never "a couple centuries," that would be grammatically incorrect) English will become as streamlined as Chinese, with no inflections for tense, case, person or number. In that ideal world, we'll speak more precisely and say, "I have car in garage," "I buy car last year," or "I bring car to office." (Yes, please please please dump those stupid, useless articles!)

    Until then, we should all lighten up and let our language evolve.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2007

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