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, the terms are often used interchangeably; however, in the past tense, this is altered.


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

Key Takeaways

  1. Got is the past tense of get and refers to the act of obtaining or receiving something in the past, while have is a present tense verb that refers to possession or ownership.
  2. Got is often used in spoken language and informal writing, while have is used in more formal or academic contexts.
  3. Got can also be used as slang to mean “understand” or “comprehend,” while have cannot.

Got vs. Have

The difference between got and have is in terms of their meanings in particularly 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

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Comparison Table

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 replace ‘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 American and Canadian speakers.
ContractionThe word ‘have got’ –commonly used as a substitute for ‘got’-can is 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 relationship obligations. In the present tense, ‘have’ and ‘have got’ are commonly used interchangeably. They are taken to mean the same thing.

However, their meaning and usage are significantly altered in the past tense. The usage of ‘have’ is more commonly used by 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.
have 1

What is ‘Got’?

‘Got’ or ‘have got’ connote 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 positively. 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 their usage. Both terms are used differently in the past tense. ‘Got’ or ‘have got’ cannot replace ‘have’ in the past tense.
  3. When used in a positive form, the word’ have’ cannot be contacted. The word ‘have got’- 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 replace ‘got’ to refer to future or recurring events.
  6. ‘have’ is commonly used instead of ‘got’ or ‘have got’ in American and Canadian English. While British speakers may prefer ‘got’ or ‘have got.’ ‘Have got’ is generally used in American English to emphasize a sentence.
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  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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