Got Bad Grammar?

Got Bad Grammar? – MSN Encarta.

I stumbled across this article today and it reminded me of a conversation I had with my lead editor a few days ago. She was reviewing the ESL lessons I had edited, and the writer had written an instruction that went something like this:

Write a series of sentences on the board, such as Jack read a book, Jill got a pen, and John sat in a chair.

My supervisor asked me to substitute took or found — or something — for the word got. Why? “I don’t like got,” she said.

I’m reminded also of when I taught English in France. I was surprised to learn that the French teach the verb have as have got (because apparently it is, in fact, have got, but I didn’t know it then). I thought this strange because it seems to me that English speakers hardly ever even say “have got.” We just say “I have a book” or “I got a promotion” (which, as the author of the article points out, is an altogether different meaning). Since the French teach British English in their schools, I consulted an English friend: “Do you say got when you say have, as in I have a dog?”

“No. In fact, it’s considered rude.”

Clearly my lead editor is not the only one uncomfortable with the word. And yet, Martha Brockenbrough tells us, and my former French colleagues would agree: have got, when speaking of possession, is the grammatical choice.


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