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Is It “Got” or “Gotten”?

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Is it “got” or “gotten”? While one standard favors “got”, the other prefers “gotten.” We’ll teach you the difference between “got” and “gotten.”

White text over orange background reads "get got gotten." (Got or Gotten?) (Got vs. Gotten)
Preference for “got” or “gotten” differs based on regions.
  • In the United States and Canada, gotten is the preferred past participle form of the verb get.
  • Got exists in all varieties as the simple past form.
  • However, outside of North America, got is the preferred past participle of get.

Get is an extremely common verb. At one point or another, you’ve probably found yourself having to use the past participle form of this word and have asked yourself, “is it got or gotten?” This post will go over if gotten is a word, and whether you should use got or gotten.

White text over GIF of Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick thinking hard reads "is it got or gotten"?
The past participle of “get” leaves many people stumped.

Get, Got, Gotten—The Basics

Understanding when to use got or gotten requires going over the basics.

Get is a verb that has numerous meanings. A few of the definitions are:

1. “to gain possession of”

Nicole will get a new laptop next month.

2.  “to succeed in attaining, achieving, or experiencing”

I need to get that new video game by any means necessary.

3. “to become affected by”

Kevin will get sick too if he doesn’t stay away from his sister.

Regardless of how get is used, the simple past tense is always got.

Nicole got a new laptop last month.
I got that new video game.
Kevin got sick because he didn’t stay away from his sister.

Additionally, the past participle of a verb refers to an action that was completed in the past. For example, the simple past tense and past participle of dance is danced.

I want to dance.
Yesterday I danced.
I had danced a lot when I was younger.

Regular verbs have the suffix —ed for both forms, but only irregular verbs have three different realizations.

So, what’s the past participle of get? Got or gotten? That depends on the context and the audience.


“Got” or “Gotten”?

Gotten is often viewed as the newer and “American” way of conjugating get, but this word is quite old, predating its use in North America by several centuries. While those who spoke British English stuck with the get-got-got conjugation, North Americans favored get-got-gotten.

In the United States and Canada, using got or gotten as the past participle of get depends on the context.

Gotten is used when referring to the process of acquiring something.

Stephanie had gotten a fine for speeding in a residential area.

Got, on the other hand, is used when referring to a state of possessing or owning something.

I’ve got more brochures in the car if you need them.  

When To Use “Got”

Outside of North America, where other dialects of English are used, got is the preferred and only form of the past participle of get.

So, the first example sentences above would be rewritten as:

Stephanie had got a fine for speeding in a residential area.

The second example sentence would remain as is.


Got vs. Gotten

So, when it comes to the past participle of get, the question is: Who is your audience, and what’s the context? Remember, in North America, gotten is used when referring to the process of acquiring something, while got is used when referring to owning or possessing something. Outside of North America, got is the only option.

One way to remain certain that you’re using the correct form of the word get is by using LanguageTool as your writing assistant. If you have British English as your primary dialect, it will remind you that gotten isn’t used in the United Kingdom. Besides that, LanguageTool will correct other spelling and grammar errors, suggest stylistic improvements, and supports a variety of languages, including other English dialects like Australian English, New Zealand English, and South African English.

Map of get got gotten usage.
Using “got” or “gotten” depends on the English dialect you are writing in.

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