(American/Aussie) English learners, do you know the subtle but important difference between "got to" and "gotta"?
A) "I got to work with Bob!" vs "I gotta work with Bob!"
B) "I got to see the opening night show." vs "I gotta see the opening night show."
I'm sure many of you can figure it out. I just thought it was pretty interesting how the same verb can mean opposite things depending on the speaker's feelings about it!
(Bonus question: why did I say American and Aussie, but not British English learners?)
The answer: saying the words "got to" may suggest excitement/positivity, where as "gotta" suggests the speaker is/was forced to do the action.
Explanation of my answer by Phil (a very popular/established teacher on here):
Well, if this is a test, I think that we've all failed it! I'm confused by the reference to Australian English and by the notion that British English is different with regard to these sentences.
This is how I understand the difference. Please do tell me if I'm wrong.
I got to work with Bob
Grammar: Past tense, referring to a past time. 'Got' is the past simple of the main verb 'get'.
Meaning: I had the opportunity to work with Bob, as in "How was your internship at ABC Motors?" "Great! I got to work with Bob. I'd been wanting to work with him for years and I finally got the chance."
Phonology: No reduction occurs. 'Got' and 'to' are pronounced as separate words.
I've got to work with Bob
Grammar: Present tense, referring to present time. The main verb is 'have', contracted to 've. The word 'got' (the current past participle in B.E. and possibly an archaic one in A.E.) serves no function other than to help the flow of the utterance.
Meaning: I have to work with Bob= I must work with Bob
Phonology: Reduction occurs. The 've' may be dropped, and the words 'got' and 'to' may be combined to produce an utterance which sounds like I gotta.
* I disagree with the OP that got to suggests 'excitement and positivity' while gotta suggests something negative.
How about "You gotta work with Bob! He's the best!". Surely that expresses excitement and positivity?
* It's also very misleading to suggest that the transcription gotta might have any grammatical or semantic function separate from the standard written form 've got to.
NB A note for learners of English. Please remember that gotta is just the way that some people write the sounds produced when speakers say "I've got to..." quickly. Nobody chooses to say gotta - it's simply what happens when sounds are reduced and words slide together. It has no meaning independent of 'I've got to...', and is not a recognised word in standard written English.
Not angry, @Eric. I'm sorry if that's the impression I gave!
As long-term members will know, the whole gonna gotta wanna thing is something I feel strongly about. This is because it worries me that there's a tidal wave of misinformation out there.
I was also confused ( rather than angry!) about why you felt that this should only apply to US/Aus English. We use 'got to' in the same way as you do, and the reduction/non-reduction rule is the same.
The only difference, as far as I can see, is for the present perfect of sentence 1 - A.E. speakers would say, for example, 'I've gotten to work with Bob three times this year', whereas B.E. speakers would say 'I've got to work with Bob three times this year'. In fact, if we want to highlight the difference between the two forms of got to ( one meaning 'had the opportunity to' and one meaning 'must'), it might even work better in B.E., because 'I've got to work with Bob' actually has two completely different meanings in for B.E. speakers. Context, obviously would make it clear, but also the phonology : 'I've got to work with Bob' (meaning 'I've had the opportunity to work with Bob') has no reduction, whereas 'I've got to work with Bob' ( meaning 'I have to work with Bob') would be reduced to 've gotta.' And apologies for any perceived anger. None intended. :)
I hadn't got the meaning and the difference between them for ten years. I got to know them finally when one of my American friends explained me a few years ago. I always gotta learn real American English. I've got to admit Naree Yoon's grammatic point is right. And I think Su. Ki.'s explanation is perfect.
If my understanding is correct, the translations of above would be...
I didn't know the meaning of them but my friend taught me. I became to know them. I have to learnreal American English. I have to admit it.
got to =became to
gotta( have got to) = have to
I think many English learners are confused about these expressions. Languages are alive and change their appearance in their place where they live, when they are spoken.
This topic is interesting. Thank you, Eric. I enjoyed a lot.