Monday, 12 October 2009

We Have Got a Problem with “We Have Got”

Many learners I know have got problems with “I have got”. For some it’s the form of the construction; for others the tense; but for most the problem is “what’s the difference between “have got” and “have”???????

Good question!

I have a headache / I have got a headache

I don’t have a car / I haven’t got a car

Do you have to go? / Have you got to go?

What’s the difference???

In some grammar books the authors bend over backwards (<- idiom = try very hard) to find a difference; I think some even invent differences!!

Here is my solution:

I have and I have got mean the SAME!

Now, that is not so difficult, is it?

What I have noticed is that people use I have got more in Britain and not so much in USA.

The form of I have etc is the same as any normal verb – see: Present Simple / Past Simple etc.

So we say:

I have … / he has …

I don’t have … / he doesn’t have …

Do you have …? / Does he have …?

The form of I have got etc is the same as the Present Perfect.

So we say:

I have got … / he has got …

I haven’t got … / he hasn’t got …

Have you got …? / has he got …?

This means it is maybe a little more complicated than I have. Also we normally don’t use I have got in the past tense:

I have got a meeting at 10 today (present of have got)

I had a meeting at 10 yesterday (past of have)

In my courses I tell people that it is enough to know that have got exists and that people use it but – and this is the GOOD NEWS – you don’t need to use it and therefore you don’t really need to learn it!!

Just use have and that’s enough!

English is Easy! does it again!!

Monday, 5 October 2009

What Are You Doing??!! (Present Continuous)

English children probably first experience the Present Continuous when their mother or father come into the room and find them drawing on the wall or cutting the cat's fur or generally making a mess...

"Oh my goodness...what are YOU doing???!!!"

The construction is also a bit of a mess! You use '
to be' as the auxiliary verb and then the '-ing' form of the main verb.

I am reading 'English is Easy'.
Are they learning vocabulary?
She is not listening to you.

Here is a table with the different forms:


you, we, they
he, she, it
VERB + ing

you, we, they
he, she, it
VERB + ing

you, we, they
he, she, it
VERB + ing...?

Now, the main problem is, when do we use this tense?

All the examples above tell you about something which is happening at the moment, i.e. NOW!

So, right now I could say, "I am sitting in front of my PC at the moment."

If I go into the kitchen to make a coffee then I cannot say that because at that moment I am not sitting in front of my PC - I am standing in the kitchen.

Just why we English need a special tense for things which are happening right now I don't know but we do!

We use the Present Simple for things which go on all the time or every day or sometimes...i.e. general things and the Present Continuous for things happening right now.

My friend John is a smoker. So, have a look at these conversations:

YOU: Does John smoke? (Present Simple)

ME: Yes, he does.

(Because we are talking about a general situation)

YOU: Is John smoking? (Present Continuous)

ME: I don't know, he isn't here at the moment.

(because we are talking about a situation NOW)

If you don't have a special tense like this in your language (and you probably don't) I'm afraid you will make lots of mistakes until you get the feeling for it. So when you read a text and find a present continuous stop for a moment and try and work out why the writer has used it and slowly you will get the idea!

Finally, a question to think about; if you are in a room with an Englishman or woman and you ask:

Is it raining?

What do you think they do ??

My Storefront