Q: My question is about the ubiquitous “I got this,” as in the title of Jennifer Hudson’s memoir. I thought this was a fairly recent usage, but I’ve heard it used on two different current TV shows set in the ’80s. When did this expression come into the language?
A: Jennifer Hudson, a Grammy Award-winning singer and Academy Award-winning actress, uses those words in the title of a 2011 song as well as her 2012 memoir.
The construction “I got this” is often used (as Hudson uses it) in a slangy, idiomatic way to mean “I can take care of this” or “I have this under control.”
The technically correct form would be either “I’ve got this” or “I have this.” But let’s not get technical about idiomatic English. Baseball outfielders, for example, aren’t stopping to check their grammar as they run to catch a fly ball.
Strictly speaking, “I got this” is a past-tense construction (as in “I got a new car last spring”).
We can’t find any scholarly discussion of the history of “I got this” used in the sense Jennifer Hudson is using it, so we can’t give you a lot of citations from the 1980s.
But we did find a few examples in Google Book searches, including this exchange from Nam, an oral history of the Vietnam War that was published in 1983:
“ ‘This one is mine.’
“ ‘Nah, I got this one. You got the last one.’ ”
We’ll end with a few lines from Hudson’s song:
(I got this)
Ain’t no stopping me, come on, follow me if you feel the need
(I got this)
Better believe I got this, believe I got this
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