Grammar

Is the Charlotte Slogan Really Grammatically Incorrect?

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The Charlotte slogan for tourism, ‘Charlotte’s Got a Lot,’ has come under fire over the years. But the criticism mostly steers clear of grammar.

The Charlotte slogan, “Charlotte’s Got a Lot” dates back at least to 2008 or so. I know that because a 2008 article that suggested alternate slogans that might be more appropriate.

The objections listed for the Queen City’s slogan weren’t at all about grammar. Instead, the suggestions attempted to demonstrate Charlotte doesn’t necessarily have as much as it seems to think.

In fairness, I’ve always loved Charlotte. It’s a beautiful city with a nice skyline. It still has something of a small-town feel to it despite that.

I’m not much of a party animal, though, so I can’t testify as to whether the city really has “a lot.” But on visits in the past, I found that it certainly had enough for me. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

Is ‘Charlotte’s Got a Lot’ grammatically incorrect?

The answer depends upon how you look at it.

The slogan begins with a contraction. Charlotte’s, in this case, use the ’s in place of the verb has. That means that the phrase really is “Charlotte [has] got a lot.”

You’d never say it that way. If you were going to ditch the contraction, you’d ditch the got, too. So it’d be “Charlotte has a lot.” 

I think back to the days of classic television and a long-running prime time game show with the same grammar “problem.”

The original version of I’ve Got a Secret premiered on CBS in 1952 and ran until 1967. If you break down the title, it’s really “I [have] got a secret.”

Ouch.

The ‘[have] got’ idiom, though, enhances meaning.

 An idiom is a phrase that may not make sense on its own, but may carry a different meaning within the context of use.

In this case, Bonnie Mills, writing for Grammar Girl, says I’ve got has more emphasis than I have would:

In American English, “have got” is an intensive form of “have.”

Still, the idiom remains at least somewhat annoying. I don’t care for it a great deal myself, but I do understand the colloquialism of the construction.

For me, it’s something I might say out loud. But it’s not likely something I would choose as a long-running slogan.

Does the ‘[have] got’ idiom bother you, or is it something you don’t pay attention to?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.