Difference between Have Got and Have

As English teachers, sometimes we get asked this question and it can be a bit difficult to answer, simply because both forms are almost identical. That is, you can use either of them to express possession. The main difference between them concerns the style: have got is more informal than have. So, for example, it is not the same to ask

  • Have you got 5 pounds? (informal) 0r
  • Do you have 5 pounds? (formal)

Additionally, have got is normally used in British English, whereas have is preferred by the Americans.

Now, grammatically, we need to consider a few particularities. Have got is only used in the present simple form. This means that we cannot say, for example:

  • I had got 2 packets of sugar (correct form: I had two packets of sugar)
  • He has had got 20 minutes to pack his suitcases (correct form: he has had 20 minutes to pack his suitcases)

Have got can be abbreviated, whereas have, on its own, cannot:

  • I’ve got 10 pounds in my wallet – I have 10 pounds in my wallet (NOT I’ve 10 pounds in my wallet)
  • She’s got a very nice dress – She has a very nice dress (NOT She’s a very nice dress)

Similarly, in its negative form:

  • You haven’t got any brothers or sisters – You don’t have any brothers or sisters (NOT You haven’t any brothers or sisters)

Have got does not need an auxiliary verb when we use it in questions or in the negative form. Have, on the other hand, needs the auxiliary do:

  1. Have you got a piece of paper? (NOT Do you have got a piece of paper?
  2. Yes, I have/No, I haven’t
  3. Do you have a piece of paper? (NOT Have you a piece of paper?)
  4. Yes, I do/No, I don’t

Last, but not least, remember that have got only refers to possession whereas “have” can have other meanings and uses as well: tomar, haber, or auxiliary verb for perfect tenses.

Now let’s put this into practice:

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