Got or Gotten?

What Is the Difference between "Got" and "Gotten"?

homeconfused wordsGot or Gotten?
the quick answer

The Quick Answer

When do you use "gotten" and "got"?

Brits do not use "gotten" nowadays, but it still features in some old terms like ill-gotten gains. Americans use "gotten" to show the process of obtaining but "got" to show possession or ownership. For example:
  • He has gotten her a ring.
  • He has got a ring.
Americans also use "got" with "got to" when it means must. For example:
  • He has got to improve.

Got or Gotten?

Writers are sometimes unsure whether to use got or gotten as the past participle of to get. It is fairly accurate to say that Americans use gotten while Brits use got, but that is not the whole story.
  • She has gotten herself flustered.
  • She has got herself flustered.

"Got To" Meaning "Must"

With the term got to (meaning must), Americans use got not gotten. For example:
  • I have got to leave soon.
  • (This means "I must leave soon.")
  • I have got to leave soon.

"Got" Meaning "Have"

When got means have, Americans use got not gotten. For example:
  • I have got a pet spider.
  • (This means "I have a pet spider.")
  • I have got a pet spider.

Brits Sometimes Use "Gotten"

Gotten was the original past participle of to get. (It predates the forming of the United States by hundreds of years.) In fact, gotten still features in some British terms. For example:
  • Are these your ill-gotten gains?

A Quick Test

teachers note

A Note from Teacher

Gotten for Obtaining but Got for Possessing

In the US, have gotten implies the process of obtaining something, while have got implies possession. For example:
  • He has gotten me a puppy.
  • (This is about the process of obtaining the puppy.)
  • I have got a puppy.
  • (This is about possessing a puppy.)
Brits use got for both ideas.

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