Writing Tip – "Has Got" Has Got to Go

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Two phrases should be banished from the English language:

1. has got

2. have got

The contracting forms of these phrases – "he's got," "I've got," etc. – should also be banned.

"Why this prejudice against these extremely common phrases?" you are probably asking. I'll tell you why: It's because they are unnecessarily long and tedious, like bad operas. They are weighed down by an unnecessary word, and that word is "got." To illustrate my point, read the following sentences:

· I have got to go to the store.

· He has gotten to get over this.

· We have got to vote today.

Now read the same sentences without the "gots":

· I have to go to the store.

· He has to get over this.

· We have to vote today.

You see? When you get rid of the "got" after a "has" or "have," the world does not come to a stop. In fact, it's a kinder, gentler world because it does not burden the reader with superfluous words.

The same goes for getting rid of "gots" after the contracts of "has" and "have," as in …

· I've got it right here.

· She's got a cold.

· They've got a grudge against gerbils.

Instead, write …

· I have it right here.

· She has a cold.

· They have a grudge against gerbils.

By following this strategy, you will not only make your writing more concise, but you will sound a bit more intelligent.

Please do not get me wrong. I have nothing against the word "got." I like it. I'm the first to defend its well-deserved place in the English language. I've even written an article about it. But you'll have to admit there's something guttural – almost Neanderthal – about the word. If I had opened the door to my office this morning to find a horde of hairy sub-humans running around inside beating each other with clubs and smearing my books with bananas, I can easily image them grunting "Got! Got! Got!" as if that pretty much summed it all up. It is just that kind of a word.

Do not abandon it, however. It's sturdy and useful. Just do not use it after "has" or "have." As the headline says, "has got" has got to go.

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