Difference Between Got and Have

While ‘have’ stands for the possession of something, the word ‘got’ refers to receiving an object or an article. In the present tense usage of the terms they are often used interchangeably, however, in the past tense, this is altered.

This differentiation is important to understand in order to use the terms in accordance with the correct syntax rules. Moreover, this difference in meaning also produces further subtle dissimilarities between the terms.

Got vs Have

The main difference between got and have is in terms of their meanings in particular given situations. The meanings of the two terms may be overwhelmingly similar in most instances, however, in the past tense, ‘got’ and ‘have’ connote a slight difference in meaning.

Got vs Have

Comparison Table Between Got and Have

Parameters of ComparisonGotHave
MeaningThe word ‘got’ connotes the act of having received an object or an article.The word ‘have’ connotes the possession of a certain object.
Use in Past Tense‘Got’ or ‘have got’ cannot be used to replace ‘have’ in the past tense.‘Got’ cannot be replaced by ‘have’ in the past tense.
UsageThe term is more suitable for informal usage.The term is more suited for formal usage.
Preference‘Got’ or ‘have got’ is preferred by British speakers.‘Have’ is preferred by the American and Canadian speakers.
ContractionThe words ‘have got’ –that is commonly used as a substitute for ‘got’-can be used as a contraction in the positive form in sentences.The words ‘have’ cannot be used as a contraction in the positive form in sentences.

What is ‘Have’?

The word ‘have’ is often invoked in the present tense to connote the possession or holding of an object or an article. It primarily expresses ownership of an item. Another commonly invoked meaning of the term is in the context of obligations in relationships.

Commonly in the present tense the words ‘have’ and ‘have got’ are used interchangeably. They are taken to mean the same thing. However, in the past tense, their meaning and usage are significantly altered. The usage of ‘have’ is more commonly used by the American and Canadian speakers as compared to their British counterparts.

Some examples demonstrating the use of ‘have’ in sentences:

  1. Can I have this dress?
  2. I want to have an ice-cream.
  3. I have to study for the upcoming exam.
  4. I have to pay the rent by the end of the month.

What is ‘Got’?

‘Got’ or ‘have got’ are used to connote the act of receiving a particular object or an item. Both these terms are used interchangeably and as replacements for ‘have’. This replacement, however, is only permitted in the present tense.

In the past tense, the meaning is altered. As in the past tense, ‘have’ becomes ‘had’ it cannot be replaced with ‘have got’ or ‘had got’. For instance, if we say, I have got a cat. Then in the past tense, this sentence is changed to I had a cat and not I had got a cat.

Moreover, the contracted form of ‘have got’ can be used in a positive sense. However, the positively contracted form of ‘have’ cannot be used in grammatically correct sentences.

Some examples of using ‘got’ in sentences:

  1. I got a penny from the by-lane.
  2. She got a car for her 18th birthday.
  3. I got a gold medal for winning the 100-meter race.
  4. She got away with the crime.

Main Differences Between Got and Have

  1. The main difference between the two terms is in terms of the meaning of each term. The meaning of the word ‘have’ in the past tense connotes the possession of a particular object or thing. While the word ‘got’ when used in the past tense in a sentence connotes the act of receiving something. This slight variance in the meaning of each term is important.
  2. The second salient difference between the two terms is in terms of their usage. Both terms are used differently in the past tense. ‘Got’ or ‘have got’ cannot be used to replace ‘have’ in the past tense.
  3. The word ‘have’ when used in a positive form cannot be contracted. Whereas, the word ‘have got’- that is commonly used in sentences instead of ‘got’- can be used in the contracted positive form.
  4. The word ‘have got’ is considered to be informal. Using ‘have’ instead is considered to be befitting for formal usages.
  5. Similarly, ‘have’ cannot be replaced with ‘got’ to refer to future or recurring events.
  6. The word ‘have’ is commonly used instead of ‘got’ or ‘have got’ in American and Canadian English. While the British speakers may prefer the term ‘got’ or ‘have got’. ‘Have got’ is generally used in American English to add emphasis to a sentence.


Speaking the English language correctly entails being thoroughly familiar with the syntax and grammatical norms of the language. Without an adept knowledge of this regulatory framework, speaking and writing the language correctly will be a daunting task. People are often confused with the usage of two words in sentences- ‘have’ and ‘got’.

Often they are used by individuals interchangeably. However, under the grammatical norms of the English language, this may not always be permissible. It is especially erroneous to use the words interchangeably in the past tense. Sentences that deploy the past tense of the word ‘have’ cannot be altered with the word ‘got’.

Moreover, there also exists a slight variance in their meanings. While ‘have’ connotes possession of something, ‘got’ or ‘have got’ connotes receiving an object or article. The preference for the usage of these words also differs in accordance with the geographical location of an individual. British speakers prefer the term ‘got’ or ‘have got’ over ‘have’. ‘Have’ is the preferred term for American and Canadian speakers.

A sense of informality is associated with the usage of the term ‘got’ which is absent for the usage of the term ‘have’. These subtle differences must be cognized to learn the language correctly and use the grammatical framework to construct sentences accurately.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/411547
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=iT8zAAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA165&dq=%27got%27+english+use&ots=gX4uJHzRG1&sig=_s1AmKMrwHHk54h6OpI3EhSsV7Y
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