"Gotten" versus "got"



When in a sentence I want to use the present perfect of get, I say have/has gotten.
A friend of mine (who is American) corrects me, saying I should use have/has got. From my English classes, I remember that the past participle of get is gotten.

Why does my friend tell me that it is not correct to use have gotten?

If that makes any difference, my friend lives on the east coast, closer to the New England zone.


Posted 2013-01-31T12:30:14.007

Reputation: 20 456

I tagged the question with [tag:american-english] since my friend is American, and the question is probably about a difference between American English, and British English (which is the English dialect I was taught in my English classes). – kiamlaluno – 2013-01-31T12:33:09.833

5As a speaker of US English (originally Middle Atlantic, now New England), I understand I have got to mean the same as I have, nothing to do with obtain or receive, but with possession (expressed informally). I have gotten is the same as I have obtained. – barbara beeton – 2013-01-31T15:34:42.323

While not an exact answer to the question I would like to point out that there is a common (but flawed) usage that ELL's may run into with got, specifically the phrases "You have got to be joking!" or "You have got to be out of your mind!" For these colloquialisms the phrase "have got to be" has a very different meaning -- more along the lines of "must be" or even just "are" -- and is not an indicator of possession or obtaining. Using such a phrase often indicates disbelief or shock as well. – O.M.Y. – 2016-01-07T05:01:41.547

1Let's not forget American English 'gotten' meaning 'become', as in 'This has really gotten out of hand' and 'It's gotten really expensive to live in New York City.' – vincent – 2017-09-03T18:24:07.037



The Cambridge History of the English Language, Vol 6, confirming what Barrie England wrote in his answer, says:

In tracing the history of American grammar, it is important to note that in many instances what might seem to have been a change in American English compared with the standard English of Great Britain is in fact no change at all - it is British English that has changed, not American. For example, eighteenth-century speakers of English generally formed the past participle of get 'receive' as gotten, as in Your brother has gotten my mail. In the nineteenth century, prestigious speakers in England began to drop the -en ending: Your brother has got my mail. Most Americans, however, continued using the older form gotten.


Posted 2013-01-31T12:30:14.007



The terms have got and have gotten are used differently in American English. Additionally, while (as I understand it) have and have got are used the same in British English, they are typically used differently in American English.

  • have is used for actually having something
  • have got is typically used as equivalant to have + already; additionally, the have is usually contracted with the subject
  • have gotten is typically used for having acheived/obtained something in the past, and doesn't always guarantee currently having it


I have a cat.

A: When are you going to get a cat?
B: I​'ve got one.
B (alternate): I have one already.

A:Have you gotten a cat yet?
B: I​'ve gotten three since we last spoke!


Posted 2013-01-31T12:30:14.007

Reputation: 1 705

B: I​'ve gotten three since we last spoke! but the dog thought they were delicious so I no longer have any. :-) – O.M.Y. – 2016-01-07T04:44:50.583


Has gotten, have gotten and had gotten are found in American English, but they are not normally used in British English, which prefers has got, have got and had got.

Barrie England

Posted 2013-01-31T12:30:14.007

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2The word gotten exists in British English only in the set phrase ill-gotten gains, where it is a fossil. – TRiG – 2013-02-11T12:21:29.883


I think that "have got" is more used to represent something that you have possessed for a while, where "have gotten" would mean something more recent.

To be honest, I rarely hear "have got". I think something like "I got" is more often used.

I'm not a teacher, that's my experience speaking English in a daily basis.


Posted 2013-01-31T12:30:14.007


Au contraire ... We use "have got" all the time, just normally in the form of a contraction with the subject: I've got the money. / He's got the flu. / They've got the plans. / We've got the time. / You've got mail. – O.M.Y. – 2016-01-07T04:50:50.890