Skip to Content

“I have got” vs. “I have gotten” — Here’s the Difference

“I have got” vs. “I have gotten” — Here’s the Difference

Sharing is caring!

Not everyone is interested in how languages work. But, whether we like it or not, the creative and playful nature of language does tickle the curiosity of its users every once in a while.

Native speakers seldom get bothered by linguistic subtleties; however, the non-natives often want to go an extra mile deeper for the sake of sense-making.

Two of the most misconstrued phrases in English are “I have got” and “I have gotten,” in which the distinctions are heavily influenced by many factors.

So, without further ado, let’s break these things down one by one so we could get a fuller understanding of these expressions.


What is the difference between “I have got” and “I have gotten”?

The expression “I have got” is more often used in British English to talk about possessions and necessity. Meanwhile, the use of “I have gotten” is largely practiced by American English users to particularly denoting the meaning “to obtain,” “to become,” or “to move out of somewhere.”


The meaning of “I have got” in more detail

Without additional context, “I have got” either means “I have” or “I must” – an expression used to denote possession or necessity.

These senses are true in both American and British Englishes, but the use of “I have got” is generally more popular in British English.


Using “I have got” for possessions

“Possessions” refer to any entity that one can “have” or “own,” such as objects like cars, land, or money.


I have got a hundred dollars left.

As you may figure, possessions are not limited to objects that can be physically obtained because they may also refer to skills, qualities, body parts, and even people.

For example, one may use the phrase “I have got” to say that he or she possesses singing skills, which means that he or she can sing well.


I have got great singing skills. I’ve always loved singing since I was three.

“I have got” may also be used to talk about other abstract concepts like human values and qualities.


I have got courage and perseverance.

It may also be used to describe the presence of body parts, especially in the context of teaching children basic language skills.


I have got two ears and two eyes.

Or, it may also be used to talk about human relationships, such as in introducing immediate family members as well as other relatives.


I have got an older sister and two younger brothers.


Using “I have got” for necessity

Meanwhile, “necessity” refers to any act that a person is strongly obliged to do, such as eating, drinking, sleeping, and so on.

To put it simply, the usage of “I have got” in this sense is similar to the modal verb “must,” which is also used to express strong recommendations.

The usage of “have got” that means “must” is more prevalent in American than British English, which is more often contracted or shortened.

To use “have got” to denote obligations or necessity, it must be followed by a verb phrase instead of a noun phrase, such as in the examples below:


I have got to sleep now. I need to be up by five in the morning.


I’ve got to let him know my decision soon.

In American English, the formality level of “have got” may still be decreased by using “got” alone and removing the modal “have.”

The meaning of “got” in this sense is similar to “need,” but then again, this usage is strictly reserved for informal conversations only.


I got to go now. My mom asked me to do something important.

Furthermore, “gotta” may also be used as an even less formal alternative to “got to” in extremely casual scenarios, such as in chatting with close friends either in the actual or virtual space.

You gotta get out of my face now. I’ll see you at the party later.


Comparing the use of “I have got” in American and British Englishes

The phrase “I have got” is more commonly used in British English, although American English users also use the expression sparingly.

In British English, “I have got” is what one would generally use to talk about possessions; expressing this idea in American English is readily achieved by using “I have.”


American English (preferred): I have a new mobile phone.

While British English users may use “I have got” in any context, American English users tend to limit the use of “I have got” in informal conversations alone.

That is to say, it is not advisable to use “I have got” in formalistic writing especially if your target audience is mainly composed of American English speakers.  

To use “I have got” in a sentence to talk about possessions, it must be followed by a noun phrase, such as in the next example:


British English: I have got a new mobile phone.

The example above, which simply means “I have a new mobile phone,” may also be turned into the interrogative or question form by using the same verbs.


Have you got a new mobile phone?

Apparently enough, the verb “have” would need to be adjusted into “has” if and when the subject used is in the singular form.


She has got a new mobile phone.

In British English, it is also important to note that the usage of the verb “got” is compelled by language conventions.

British English speakers tend to use “got” as the past participle of the verb “to get,” but American English users prefer “gotten” instead.

This difference in language conventions is the main reason why some people are having a hard time distinguishing the two expressions being discussed.

It was mentioned earlier that “have got” also exists in the American English lexicon; however, it is worthy to note something else in their usage of the expression.

While the complete expression “I have got” is preferred in British English, the contracted version “I’ve got” is rather favored in American English, particularly in the context of casual conversations.


American English (alternative): I’ve got a new mobile phone.

In a nutshell, “I have got” is more commonly used in British English to talk about possessions, while it is mainly used to talk about obligations in American English.

But of course, most, if not all, American English speakers would not have a hard time understanding what you mean if you use “I have got” to talk about possessions.

Similarly, British English speakers are also less likely to misinterpret what you mean if you use “I have got” in talking about obligations.


The meaning of “I have gotten” in ample detail

The rise and spread of English as a global language have indeed improved a lot of activities and processes around the world.

But, at the same time, the event has also caused changes as to how people use the English language in actual communicative scenarios.

The verb “gotten” is mostly used by American English users for special purposes. This distinctive usage is often misunderstood by British English users in general.

World-renowned linguist David Crystal notes that “gotten” is not just a convenient substitute for “have got” even if it may look like one.

“I have gotten” is used less likely than “I have got,” and it is more often used by American rather than British English users.


Using “I have gotten” in American English

American English speakers tend to choose “gotten” as the past participle of the verb “to get,” and they use “I have gotten” to especially denote the meaning “I have obtained” something.


I have gotten us some breakfast.

The example sentence above is particularly suggestive of the meaning “I have obtained some food for us to eat for breakfast,” which often implies that the subject has “bought” the food.

Apart from this meaning, “gotten” may also be used to denote the meaning “to become something” or “to move out of a space.”

When someone is said to “have gotten fat,” the person being described has undergone some physical changes in the perspective of the speaker.

For example, a person may use “have gotten fat” to talk about his or her pet dog that has gained weight.


It’s only been a month since we last met, Cooper, yet you have gotten this fat already! Granny must have been giving you human food while I was away.

“Gotten” is also used in American English to suggest the meaning “to move out” from somewhere, such as from a house.


A: Where’s dad?


B: He has just gotten out of the house.


Interestingly enough, “gotten” is never used to talk about possessions in American English. So, one must not indiscriminately use “gotten” in the sense of the following example:


(Incorrect): I have gotten a new brother.

In the example above, the target audience may easily misunderstand the sentence in such a way that a new brother has been “obtained” by the subject, which is linguistically ambiguous.

All in all, “I have gotten” is less likely used than “I have got” through the years. So, when in doubt, it is always safer to use either “to obtain,” “to become,” or “to move out” in actual conversations.

And, it is also vital to note that knowing these subtle differences is only crucial in the context of language learning.

Therefore, arguing over these relatively complex details in actual speaking scenarios or asking native speakers why these issues occur is not recommended.


Comparing the verbs “got” and “gotten”

The English lexicon, in general, contains a lot of tricky expressions like “I have got” and “I have gotten” that are perpetuated by language conventions.

For instance, the British prefer using the spelling “wholistic” to “holistic” when describing the subjective idea of looking at “the bigger picture.”

Meanwhile, American English users favor the use of periods in abbreviating “Philosophiae Doctor,” which means that “Ph.D.” rather than “PhD” is considered “more correct” in American English.

But, if you are wondering whether the same linguistic conventions drive the orthographic issue between “amature” and “amateur,” then the answer is no.

If you want to discover more about these words, please feel free to read our additional resource covering the issue between “amature” and “amateur” to understand more.

These are just a couple of related examples that support the idea of using “got” and “gotten” in actual language contexts.


The past participle form of “to get” in American vs. British English

In American English, the widely-used past participle of the verb “to get” is “gotten,” whereas British English users prefer to use the simpler version “got.”

These conventions affect how American and British people form the perfect tenses in talking about achievements in general as well as recent events.

This means that saying “I have gotten used to it” is perfectly fine in the USA, whereas “I have got used to it” is what people from the UK consider grammatical.

Moreover, it is also important to note that the “got/gotten” convention is not applicable to other verbs ending in “-get,” such as “forget” and “beget.”

In both American and British Englishes, the past participles of these verbs remain to be “forgotten” and “begotten,” respectively.

Example 1:

(Incorrect) I have forgot where I put my keys.


(Correct) I have forgotten where I put my keys.

Example 2:

(Incorrect) The confidence that he has begot from his travels is crucial in his success. 


(Correct) The confidence that he has begotten from his travels is crucial in his success. 


Frequently Asked Questions on “I have got” vs. “I have gotten”


Is “have got” American or British?

In talking about possessions, “have got” is more popular among British English speakers. American English users tend to prefer using “to have” in most cases.


Which is correct, “I have got” or “I have gotten”?

In American English, “I have got” is used in informally talking about possessions and necessity, and “I have gotten” is only grammatically correct when used to denote the meaning “to obtain,” “to become,” and “to move out from a place.”


Does “I have gotten” make use of correct grammar?

In American English, “I have gotten” is considered grammatical three different senses of the verb “to get.” These three senses include “to obtain,” “to become,” and “to move out.” 



Language is naturally dynamic and language users are also whimsical. So, what is linguistically valid at the moment may not essentially be retained forever.

Hence, bickering over these matters in an unhealthy way is unnecessary because it only causes more trouble especially among second language learners.