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ESL forum > Techniques and methods in Language Teaching > have got or have    

have got or have


have got or have
Just a simple question because I am debating with my colleagues in my French school as to the use of Have  or Have got for physical characteristics and possession. Some of them are influenced by the American English and won īt teach Have got to their pupils , So...............??Thanks for your answers

18 Mar 2013      


As an American teacher in Europe, Iīve had to be flexible and learn/teach the "have got" option. Because Britain is just next door and European people have more chances of going there with lowcost airlines or taking British exams, I think "have got" is usually given more emphasis... So thatīs what I teach to small kids. Ideally, students need to know both, but it can be confusing depending on ability and age.

That said, most of my kids are more interested in American films/series/lifestyle, so I end up teaching both. They accept it pretty well, just like differences they might find between, say, Spanish and Argentinian types of Spanish - neither is "better".

Basically, I believe that itīs ok to teach just one form (have or have got) as long as the students are complete beginners. But after a few weeks/months, I think itīs unrealistic to ignore the other form because the students will eventually come across it because of geographic or cultural factors. Apart from a few isolated cases, my students can always handle it.

That said, I really wish we had just one option - it would save us a lot of heartache!

18 Mar 2013     

United Kingdom

I second danygera īs point about flexibility. It really is a bit short-sighted to refuse to teach a perfectly acceptable alternative which students are bound to encounter sooner or later. The have got v have debate has been around since the middle of the 19th century - even though the former has been in use since the 16th century (at least to denote possession because of have īs growing use as an auxiliary and tendency to be contracted).
If you īre still unsure when to use it, Merriam-Webster īs Dictionary of English Usage (an American publication) gives some sensible advice:

Have will do perfectly well in writing that avoids the natural rhythms of speech. But in speech, or prose that resembles speech, you will probably want have got.

PS   MWDEU also makes the point that, for many Americans, "have got denotes mere possession, while have gotten denotes obtaining".

18 Mar 2013     

United States

In the US, the people who do use "have got" almost always contract the "have". Almost no one here would say "I have got a headache". Instead, it would be "I īve got a headache". (That is, unless they are stressing the "have", as in when someone says "You certainly aren īt in pain".).
We used to have a game show called "I īve Got a Secret".

18 Mar 2013     


thanks for your information , I  actually tend to teach them both saying that they might hear both!

18 Mar 2013