Pearl's Paradise

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled teams yearning to breath free…"

January 14, 2010
by Steve Pearl

“We’ve Got”: English Takes a Dive

Please pardon this interruption in your daily routine as we pause to ponder a sloppy, dopey trend in modern speech.

Today we turn our attention to variations on the phrase, "We've got to…", a lazy over-complication of the more appropriate, "We must…" or "We have to…"

You know the phrase to which I refer.  It's everywhere these days.

"We've got to…"  "They've got to…"  "I've got to…"  "He, she, it's got to…"

Think about it for just a moment the next time you open your mouth and utter any variant of this phrase.  Pause to think back to your 3rd grade teacher of English or Grammar.  Take that contraction and expand it out to its component parts.

"We have got to…"

"They have got to…"

"I have got to…"

If you don't see the trouble with adding the word "got" in any of the phrases above, then you are qualified to join nearly every talking head now populating the local or cable news channels.

If, on the other hand, you immediately recognize that the word "got" is an unnecessary, badly formed modifier in nearly ever phrase above then you are welcome to give yourself a pat on the back and a gold star on your forehead.  You actually learned and retained something from those years of High School or College English.

For those who may still be confused…

"I have to…"  or, more properly, "I must…" will clearly suffice as a replacement for "I've got to…"

How about, "We have to…" or  "We must…"?

"They must…"

"He, she, or it must…"

You get the point.  Next time someone tries to tell you, "America's Got Talent," you may remind them that, "America Has Talent," thank you very much.

Thank you for your attention.  We now return you to your normally scheduled broadcast.

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