Grammar 7 min read

Getting to the Bottom of Get Got Gotten

Main Get Got Gotten Takeaways:

  • Get, got and gotten are all correct but they are not interchangeable.
  • Get is the present tense of this verb (infinitive: to get).
  • Got is the past tense of this verb. It’s also the first of two correct options for the get past participle.
  • Gotten is a word. In fact, its the second of the two past participles of get.
  • In American English, the word gotten is no more or less formal than the word get or got. Instead, it really comes down to your personal style and desired tone.
What do you think you’ll get for lunch?
I know it’s a little late, but I got you a small present to wish you a belated happy birthday!
I bet Sofia’s parents are happy that she’s got the hang of driving.
Sofia has gotten better at driving since last year.
Eric wished he had gotten the traditional comforter instead of the weighted blanket.

Get, got, gotten — which is it? Have you gotten better at grammar, or have you got better at grammar — or are both got and gotten acceptable? Let’s look at the difference between these three words as well as example sentences for each.

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Three men labeled as get, got and gotten. Get says I'm present tense. Got says I'm both past and past participle. Gotten says I'm an alternative past participle.
Get, got, and gotten are all correct but they are not interchangeable.

Is it Correct to say Gotten?

Yes, it is correct to say gotten. In fact, gotten and got are both get past participles, but they mean slightly different things. For example, gotten means “I acquired,” whereas got means “I have.” Moreover, got is also the past tense of the verb to get. Another difference between these words is regional preference. North American English speakers tend to use gotten while British English speakers prefer the word got instead.

The scientists at the UK Atomic Energy authority believe that they’ve almost got all the data they need.
NASA’s planetary engineers are confident they’ve almost gotten all the data they need.
📝 The verb to get means “to receive” or “to come to have something.”

What is Another Word for Gotten?

Another word for gotten is acquired. What’s more, synonyms for any form of get (including the past participle gotten) include acquire, obtain, receive, purchase, buy, earn, come in to, gain, collect, and come by. In fact, you can use any of those similar words in place of get, got or gotten in a sentence.

Madison came by his success easily.
Sarah received an unexpected letter in the mail.
Bill gained most of his professional connections via LinkedIn.

Get, Got, and Gotten Example Sentences

Here are examples of how to use get in a sentence:

I get nervous during exams.
Mrs. Swanson wasn’t sure how to get to the Post Office from here.
What should we get you for your graduation present?
When did you get back from the store?

Here are examples of how to use got in a sentence:

I got you a dress from the store.
Celine got Heather a pair of earrings for her birthday.
The Labour Party representative felt that the discussion had got out of hand.

Here are examples of how to use gotten in a sentence:

Our experiment has gotten off to a bad start.
My client has not gotten his summons yet, Your Honor.

[Correct]The Joint Chiefs of Staff felt they had gotten clear orders from the President.[/correct]

💡📝 Get Got Gotten Cheat Sheet

Get: present tense of the verb to get


  • Past tense of the verb to get
  • 1/2 correct options of the past participle of the verb to get (preferred in UK English)

Gotten: 2/2 correct options of the past participle of the verb to get (preferred in US English)

Has Got or Gotten?

Has got and has gotten are interchangeable. But people in the United States use the word gotten more often than the word got. Both gotten and got are past-tense versions of get. I got means “I have,” whereas I have gotten means I acquired. British English speakers are more likely to use the phrase has got to indicate “have in my/their possession.” Let’s see a few examples in action:

There has got to be something we can do about that.
My mom thinks I’ve gotten too big for my boots.
He told me he gotten married back in 2015.
☝️ The word gotten is just as old as the word got. As a matter of fact, both gotten and got originate in Middle English.

“Could Have Gotten” Meaning?

The phrase “could have gotten” means that there was an opportunity to get something in the past, but it slipped away or wasn’t taken advantage of (e.g., I could have gotten a perfect grade on the test if I had just studied a bit more). The phrases “could have,” “should have,” and “would have” are the three past tense modals. As such, they show what might have happened but did not actually occur. Therefore, “could get” and “could have gotten” function similarly to “get” and “have gotten.”

📝How to use the Three Past Modals:

Subject + could/should/would + have + Past Participle Verb

Lauren could have gotten the winning ticket if she had arrived earlier.
I would have gotten more gourmet snacks for the party, but the everyday store brand was all that was left.
The sisters should have gotten the pizza to go, but they preferred to dine-in.

Is Gotten Formal?

In American English, the word gotten is no more or less formal than any other form of get. Originally a Middle English word, gotten is still used in both academic and informal writing in Canada and in the US. In the UK, Australia and New Zealand, writers use the word got rather than gotten in both formal and informal writing.

The students were disappointed because they gotten their multiplication tables wrong.
The students were disappointed because they had gotten their multiplication tables wrong.
The students were disappointed because they had got their multiplication tables wrong.
The students were disappointed because they got their multiplication tables wrong.

It’s important to note that got has a common colloquial use that isn’t grammatically correct. For instance, you may hear someone use the word got as a synonym for has. While you might say this in a casual conversation, you should avoid it (and never write it) in more formal or professional settings.

(informal speech/text) IKR?! That lady — she got style.
(formal speech/writing) That lady has style.

Is Gotten an Americanism?

Many assume that gotten is an Americanism because Americans use the word more than other English-speaking people. That isn’t true. In fact, both gotten and got date back to as early as 4th century Middle English. Therefore, gotten has been around just as long as got — and some people even consider it an antiquated form of got.

“Between us, I think the cat has got a little overweight,” said dad.
The octopus population in the U.S. has gotten larger recently.

Get Got Gotten in Review

On one hand, get is present tense, while got and gotten are both past participles of get. Surprisingly, gotten isn’t an Americanism — it’s actually just as old as the word got.

Have you got (or gotten!) the get/got/gotten difference down?

Read More: Alot Or A Lot Or Allot? Here’s The Easiest Way To Get It Right

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Krista heads up Marketing and Content Creation here at INK. From Linguistics and History to puns and memes, she's interested in the systems we create to share our ideas with each other.

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