Just So English Blog

Using Have Got (to) in English

Published by on 21 December 2021 | Categories : Blog

have got to

“But, it’s just like Have” you cry!

Yes, that’s true…

“Then why use Have Got when Have works perfectly well enough – and is simpler too?”

Well, like with the verb get, many Francophone English-learners use exclusively the verb Have, as they would in French. Whilst they are not wrong, they could sound more English if they used Have Got more often.


You really need convincing, don’t you?! Well, for one thing, Have Got sounds more authentic, especially the abbreviated form “I’ve got” and is used in spoken English a lot more – especially in the UK.

Anglophones, for instance, would be more likely to say “I’ve got a headache” than “I have a headache”.

Have Got also communicates a stronger sense of possession or belonging than Have alone. It sounds more concrete, more real.

Have got to instead of must

I must use Have Got To

French people also tend to be taught the modal verb Must to express an obligation – and they practice it as much they can! Whilst Must is of course correct, it is not always the most appropriate. In reality it is most often used for formal commands e.g., “All participants must write in black ink”.

Many learners are aware that they can use Have to instead of Must, even if they don’t often use it (it’s easier just to use Must after all!). Very few, however, use Have Got To which is probably the most frequently used, at least in informal contexts.

An anglophone would more likely say “I’ve got to go now” than “I must go now”. Must sounds too severe in most situations and gives the impression that you are following orders or even that you might suffer if you don’t!

You can, of course, easily get by quite comfortably without ever having to use Have Got or Have Got To, but if you make the effort to use them more often, you’ll sound just that little bit more authentic.