Hey there, this is Teacher ola podcast  episode 8.: Have or Have got?

My name’s Ola and I teach English through 1:1 lessons online..

This podcast is for those English learners who want to speak English with more confidence and get rid of speaking barriers. You’ll boost your vocabulary, brush up your grammar and improve your pronunciation. Check out  my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Happy learning!

Hello again, thank you for listening to this episode.

Today we’re going to talk about differences as well as similarities between ‘have’ and ‘have got’, so it’s pure grammar today. After listening have a look at the transcript and worksheet which will help you to digest and test this grammar point. It’s at teacherola.com/8.

‘Have’ and ‘have got’. Let me tell you, it is a real struggle to feel the difference for many learners. Since you’re listening to this episode now, I guess you’re also confused. You’re absolutely justified. In this episode I’m going to tell you why it is so confusing.  What is it all about? When you understand why some things are challenging, if you look a monster in the eyes, it’s much easier to feel less afraid of it, right?

I’m gonna tell you why the confusion might occur, and occurs in many cases. Secondly, I’ll tell you the correct forms and when to use them. Which form is more formal ‘have’ or ‘have got’? Which form is more British ‘Have’ or ‘have got’? How to make question tags and how to make short answers with ‘have got’? What are the similarities and differences between these two forms.

The confusion first. It comes from the fact that the verb ‘have’ has two completely different functions. First, it’s a main verb, second it’s an auxiliary verb. ‘Auxiliary’ means giving help or support to the main verb. Just like in the case of present perfect tense:

I have been.

We have seen.

She has gone.

In these three sentences you could hear the word ‘have’ but it doesn’t carry any meaning. It’s there just because of its function. Thanks to it we know it’s present perfect perspective.

Ok. As a main verb ‘have’ has many meanings, most frequent meanings are:

  • To possess, to own, to have a cat.
  • Used to show a particular relationship, to have a cousin.
  • To suffer from an illness, to have a cold.
  • To receive, to have the bill
  • To experience something, to have a good time.
  • To take, to have a shower.
  • To organise or hold an event, to have a wedding.
  • To eat, drink or smoke something, to have a drink
  • To perform an action, to have a swim, a shower
  • To give birth, to have a baby

And the list goes on and on. Not to mention idioms.

A tiny exercise: is it correct to ask: How many pens does she have got? Is it correct? We’ll come back to this later.

Let us begin tidying up, it’s way too messy.

When you want to talk about possession, illness, relationships or characteristics of someone or something you can use both. Have and have got. There’s no difference in meaning.

I have a flat.

I’ve got a flat.

The meaning is the same but the register changes. I’ve got a flat is more common for everyday conversations. It sounds less formal. It’s also more British. I have a flat is more American. It’s also more formal.

Ok, let me show you some examples with have got.  You repeat them and try to memorize that it’s British and informal:

She’s got a pet. …

Have you got a bike? …

It’s got Bluetooth. …

How many rooms have you got? …

Now. Listen to similar sentences but without ‘got’. Repeat them, and memorize as slightly more formal and more American:

She has a pet. …

Do you have a car? …

It has Bluetooth. …

How many children do you have? …

One more thing. In a conversation you don’t have to stick to one form, you can alternate them freely and it still sounds natural. Listen to and an example dialogue:

A: Do you have a balcony?

B: Yes, I’ve got a very nice balcony.

Have got though behaves like an auxiliary verb, so you formulate the questions differently: without ‘do’ or ‘does’. How the heck do we make questions then? You might ask. Well, start with ‘have’:

Have you got any apples?

Have you got an idea?

Listen to a negative sentence:

I haven’t got any apples.

I haven’t got an idea.

No ‘do’ is used her. Coming back to the question I asked before:

Is this this question correct: How many pens does she have got? No, it’s not correct, it’s clearly wrong. It should be either: How many pens does she have? Or How many pens has she got?

You can’t mix both.

Have got exists only now. It doesn’t have a past form (had got for example, doesn’t exist).

For future sentences use: I will have or I’m going to have

For past use: I had a stomach ache.

Present perfect: have had

Past perfect: had had

But! This episode is not about tenses, so  we won’t dive deeper into had had today.

Question tags. How to make them with ‘have got’. Listen and repeat: You’ve got a licence, haven’t you? … We don’t repeat ‘got’ in a tag.

Short answers. In short answers don’t add ‘got’ either. A little dialogue:

A: Have you got a minute?

B: Yes, I have.

Remember, use have got because it’s common, everyday expression but only in the meaning of:

  • Possession: I’ve got a car.
  • Relations: She’s got five cousins.
  • Characteristics: He’s got dark hair.
  • Illness: They’ve got a cold.

You can use have in progressive form, if it’s used in different meanings. Repeat after me these few examples:

I’m having a shower.

I’m having a coffee.

I’m having breakfast.

I’m having a bath, a shower, a wash.

I’m having a good time.

I’m having a great week.

Just before we wrap up, there are two more things. Sometimes you might hear a sentence similar to this one: I haven’t any ideas. In British English even if ‘have’ is a main verb it sometimes has the form of auxiliary. I haven’t any ideas. Got is missing and it happens only in British English. It’s not standard but it happens.

Last, but not least, in informal American English ‘have’ is sometimes omitted, and we end up with: I got a problem. I got a toothache.

Here you have it, I really hope I exhausted the topic. I’m sure you feel at least less confused now.


Do you find it difficult to see the difference between have and have to? Do you have any questions? Feel free to ask them in the comment section or e-mail me at contact@teacherola.com.

Now, test yourself, grab a worksheet at teacherola.com/8 and do exercises.

If you think someone you know could benefit from this episode, do tell him or her about it.

Don’t miss the next episode, because I’ll tell you a thing or two about one brilliant technique you should employ now to fight your blokade. It’s easy, it’s something everyone can do on a daily basis. I definitely do it everyday.

Ok, Have a great week, till next Wednesday, happy learning, bye!