I haven’t or I’ve not?

Lately I’ve noticed several people using “I’ve not…” instead of “I haven’t” as the negative present perfect form (whether progressive or not), for example:

  • I’ve not said anything about it.
  • I’ve not been to Africa.
  • I’ve not tried to contact him.

Both are correct forms, nothing wrong with using either one. But to me it sounds grating, so I decided to do a quick search and see what comes up on it.  A few people on a forum I looked at claimed that “I’ve not” is heard more in British English than in the American variety. However another contributor looked at a linguistic corpus (collections of recorded and transcribed natural speech) of British English and another of American English and found a similar number of occurrences per million words in each. So I don’t yet have an answer to why I’ve suddenly noticed it being used more often here in Australia. Any ideas?

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3 responses to “I haven’t or I’ve not?

  1. I can’t say I’ve noticed either way for myself.
    It does strike me as something more British than anything else.
    That is to say, I’d expect to hear it from POMs and can hear and see some I know saying it that way in my head.
    The way I say it probably depends on whether I am hanging out with POMs or taking the piss out of them.

  2. My fiancée just pointed out to me that I say “I’ve not” too – I’d never noticed nor thought about it but she’s right. And we too thought it possibly sounded ‘more British’. So, there you go! Very odd, but I’d like to know more if you uncover some details or explanations! Oh, and for the record – I AM Australian so maybe that’s something…

  3. My friend has just started pointing it out whenever I say ‘I’ve not’ and then correcting me with ‘I haven’t.’
    Thinking about they are exactly the same really I-have not and I Have-not. I never realized I said I’ve not until she pointed out that it really annoys her.
    I was born in Australia but my entire family are from England so I suppose it could be a British thing, weird.

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