Thursday, September 6, 2012

Writing 101: Is Gotten Good Grammar?

The word gotten just sounds wrong to me sometimes, yet it always comes out of me naturally. I noticed it earlier when I was writing an email to someone; I typed out that I had gotten something, then quickly backspaced and put in the more majestic received instead. Then I realized, I don't actually know if gotten is good grammar or not. It sounds like slang and somehow seems wrong when I see it on my screen, but it still has its place in the English language. In fact, I've quite recently learned all about it. 


Have Got

Gotten is a past tense form of the verb to get. Get just means have, hold, receive. It can also be used to mean to experience ("I got sick"). The past tense form of get is got; the past participle of got is gotten. A past participle is a word that's used with had, have or has. 

Therefore, it's perfectly acceptable to use gotten if it's being used with its companion word. I have gotten sick before. ...Unless, of course, you're in Britain. 

They stopped using gotten when Queen Victoria was still ruling England, and that was a long time ago (pre-Civil War). But people in the States never did stop using it, so it's still proper English if you're on that side of the world.

That said, I still don't like the word. Gotten can just about always be replaced with prettier words like obtained or acquired, which look much lovelier on the page. In dialogue, however, gotten may sound more natural to your inner reading voice. If gotten seems to make the text flow just the right way, type it on in there -- because yes, it's proper English and when used the right way it's perfectly good grammar.

[+/-] Show Full Post...

18 comments:

  1. I feel the same way. That gotten is an acceptable word, but there are so many better words out there to choose from.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Haha I am such a "Gotten" nerd. I always use it and I aso seem to realize how bad it looks on paper. Good tips I shall think about it next time I review something thanks Jade!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't even like 'got'. Just a weird personal preference of mine, but it sounds so... bleh. I don't think I ever use gotten, because I can think of so many other better-sounding words than that.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Get/got/gotten" is at least consistent with "forget/forgot/forgotten"!

    Having said that, sometimes "gotten" sounds acceptable ("They have gotten off to a bad start"), but at other times sounds all wrong ("I haven't gotten time for this!").

    Love English, it's not bound by logic :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am sure glad English is my first language and both my parents were English teachers - plus I read a lot as a child. Gotten has never sounded right to me. I hate needing to use extra words like have, has, or had when it feels more comfortable to just say, "last week I got sick" than "last week I had gotten sick" It just seems like redundant past tense.

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm so glad to have found this! I googled it because I questioned the same thing as I began to type the word. Thanks for posting!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Got it, and although it took a while to get it, it's good to have gotten over my problem so now I must be getting going.

    ReplyDelete
  8. For a global audience, gotten can usually be replaced with got or have got. It's old English that's still used in the States and Canada.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The best part is when Brits think it's American encroachment into their "pristine" vernacular.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. no the best part is when she sucks mt dick

      Delete
    2. Why yes, Ingrid, I think you speak for the entire group with that sentiment.

      Delete
  10. Americans use gotten as if it were the only verb in their vocabulary. They have forgotten verbs such as became, received, arrived etc. I don't know who they mean by Brits! Scots, Welsh, English? As dumb as a box of rocks!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Break sentences down into bite-size ideas. Then delete what you don’t need. Think Hemingway, not Dickens.



    APA Editor Services

    ReplyDelete
  12. AMERICANS DREAMING UP WORDS AGAIN.

    ReplyDelete
  13. getting ready for exams takes a lot of efforts cause you have to remember all the exclusions from all the rules and that's why you have to take a look here for some writing tips. (you will find tips from writing essay hooks till choosing proper ending )

    ReplyDelete