Sunday, 3 April 2011


Today's word is the verb 'to get', perhaps one of the most widely used in English.
I was amazed to come across an assertion made on a language learning site, from someone correcting another member's written submission, that “in English, you can't use 'have got”. Well, you most certainly can, and do!
It's possible that he meant 'in American English you can't' use it.
Americans use 'gotten' and inevitably, so do New Zealanders. The problem is that New Zealanders use it arbitrarily. They seem not to have noticed that Americans use 'gotten' as past perfect, and not past simple. In British English, 'gotten' is purely archaic. It's not in use any more. Hence the confusion in this man's correction.

Present simple
I get
You get
He/She gets
We Get
They Get
Present continuous
I am getting etc

Past simple
I got
You got
He/she got
We got
They got
Past continuous
I was getting etc
Past perfect
I have got
You have got
He/she has got
We have got
They have got
Future simple
I will get
You will get
He/she will get
We will get
They will get.

American English would use 'gotten' in the past perfect column, but beware, those of you who have learned your American English from TV and movies. They do not use gotten for past simple!
Today, as a bonus, I want to say something about the verb 'to do'...
I hear so many people say 'I done it'. No, you haven't - you have done it. Similarly, you cannot say 'I seen it. You must say 'I have seen it', or 'I have done it'. From my observation, this usage is confined to the comparatively uneducated of all nationalities, but is very common in New Zealand.


  1. That's a great post about Got/get! I look forward to reading something about all of the phrasal verbs with "get". It would be nice if you talked about it in a post. Thank you so much.

  2. I shall do, and thanks for the idea. (I have many ideas, and you've given me more!)