‘Have’ or ‘have got’?

Published by englistation on May 24, 2020

Should I use have or have got? If you have ever asked yourself this question, then this is for you. Two tricky forms that many learners of English find confusing are have and have got. Let us therefore see how to use them correctly.

Meaning of have and have got

Have‘ and ‘have got‘ have the exact same meaning, they are both used to express possession. For example:

I have a red car. = I’ve got a red car.

Susan has got two brothers. = Susan has two brothers.

We both have blue eyes. = We‘ve both got blue eyes.

The predicates or verbs in the above examples all have the same meaning. So when should we use one rather than the other? The ‘have got‘ forms are more common in an informal style. So you might hear them more often in spoken English but you don’t want to use them in a formal or official letter. In a formal style use ‘have‘ instead.


One very important difference between the ‘have’ and the ‘have got’ forms is that the latter (have got) can only be used in the present. We do not use ‘have got’ in past or future sentences:


correct: I have a meeting every day.

correct: I’ve got a meeting every day.


correct: I had a meeting last week.

incorrect: *I had got a meeting last week.


correct: I’ll have a meeting next week.

incorrect: *I’ll have got a meeting next week.


Also, one has to be careful with questions and negatives. Although they have the same meaning, have and have got are formed differently in questions and negatives.

With ‘have‘ the auxiliary do/does is used:

I have three brothers.   —  How many brothers do you have?


But ‘have got‘ does not take an additional auxiliary:

She‘s got five cars.   —   How many cars has she got?


And similarly with negatives: ‘have‘ is negated with the help of do/does, whereas ‘have got‘ is not.

I don’t have any money.

I haven’t got any money.


Short answers

As with all other short answers, the trick here is to look at the first word of the question and use that in your answer. With ‘have‘ it will be do/does. And with ‘have got‘ it will be have/has:

Do you have a dog?       – Yes, I do.

Have you got a car?      – No, I haven’t.

Question tags

Also in question tags, the same difference can be observed as in questions.

With have got we ask with have/has:

You‘ve got a high temperature, haven’t you?

He has got a sister, hasn’t he?


But with have we ask with do/does:

She has a house, doesn’t she?

They have their own company, don’t they?


Note #1:

This ‘have got‘ is not the present perfect of get. This expression is built up of two verbs have + got to form one phrase meaning to own / to possess: I‘ve got three books.

Compare this example, where have got is really the present perfect form of get:

I‘ve already got over you. (US: I‘ve already gotten over you.)


Note #2:

With food and meals we use ‘have’ rather than ‘have got’:

We usually have breakfast at 8.

I have two cups of coffee every day.