Jane Peters asked me to write about the word "gotten," so here goes…
It's not a word I'd thought about, so off I went to Grammar Girl and a few other sites to learn what I could learn.
First, I learned that American, Canadian, and British English uses are not in agreement. Those using British English will use the word "got" where those using American or Canadian English will use "gotten."
Gotten is the past participle form of the word get. It generally (but not always) comes after the words has or have.
Proper use would be:
- "I have gotten behind on my bookwork." (British: have got)
- "He has gotten the same birthday gift from his Dad three years in a row." (British: has got)
- The book was not gotten easily.” (British: was not got)
But – just because you see a "have" or a "has" doesn't mean the word following it should be "gotten."
If you say "I have got a rock in my shoe" it means a rock is right there in your shoe at the present time.
If you said you had gotten a rock in your shoe, it would indicate that it was something that happened to you in the past. For instance: "I have gotten rocks in my shoes while creek fishing."
If you say "I have got to get to the store before dinner time," it means you must do so – before dinner time. If you say "She has got to pass this test or she'll fail," it means she must.
In other words, "has got" or "have got" are often used in place of the word "must."
How about "I've got a silly song stuck in my head, playing over and over?" That's in the present.
"I got a song stuck in my head yesterday" would be simple past tense, while "I've gotten silly songs stuck in my head many times" would be past participle
OK, so "gotten" is the past participle form. What the devil does past participle mean?
I know how to use it, but found it hard to define, so went searching again. According to Webster's New World College Dictionary, it is a verb used with auxiliaries to express completed action in a time gone by, as in our examples above.
It can also be used to form the passive voice, as in "dinner was eaten quickly," or as an adjective, as in "ill-gotten gains."
My research also informed me that the word "get," along with its past and past-participle forms, is one that many people avoid, thinking it far too informal. That's something that would never have occurred to me.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net