16 April 2014

Grammar: Use of the verb “Get”

A. Get is one of those strange multipurpose verbs in English that can be difficult to figure out for learners of English. We see it in all sorts of expressions such as:

"Get well soon!"

"I need to get started with my homework."

"She got off the train in Paris."

"Buy one, get one free."

So let's look at a few of the most common meanings of get.

1. obtain / receive.

"I got a lot of presents for my birthday."

"She got a good score on her English test."

2. buy /find

"Where did you get that dress?"

" I just got my tickets to the Johnny Hallyday concert at the Stade de France."

"In the current economy, it's hard to get a job."

3. become

"It's getting late so I better go home."

"John's boss got very angry with him because it was the third time this week he got to work late."

4. arrive / reach

"John's boss got very angry with him because it was the third time this week he got to work late."

"What time did you get home last night?"

5. fetch / find and bring back

"I need to get my car from the garage after work. They were repairing my brakes."

"I need to go to the store to get some milk."

For other meanings of "get," go to: http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/get

B. We can also add a past participle to “get” to create expressions which are more commonly used than the verb itself. Both are grammatically correct, but the form with “got” can be more natural.

  • They got married in June. Instead of: They married in June.
  • After breakfast, I got dressed. Instead of: After breakfast, I dressed.
  • He got fired from his last job. Instead of: He was fired from his last job.

C. By adding an adjective to '”get,” it takes on the meaning of changing from one state to another….more simpy said “to become.” (See above.)

  • It’s almost lunchtime and I’m getting quite hungry.
  • The economy is getting worse and worse.
  • Quite sitting around! It’s time to get busy and work.

D. Now here is where it gets really fun!! Those pesky phrasal verbs and other phrases with “get.” And some of them have several different meanings!!

Take a look at “get on!”

  • Those two colleagues don’t get on very well together. (= they don’t have a good relationship)
  • How are you getting on in your new job? (= 'how well is it going' or 'how well are you doing')
  • She got on the train. (= to board or enter a vehicule such as bus, plane or train.)

And these are just a few! So, I imagine you are now getting a headache!!

Here are a few more of the many phrasal verbs and expressions using “get:”

  • The Mona Lisa is protected by bulletproof glass so noone can get at it. (= reach)
  • The teacher has explained this mathematical problem 3 times, but I still don’t get it. (= understand)
  • I know just enough German to get by. (=have just enough money or knowledge so that you can do what you need to do)
  • It’s very easy for him to get to know people. (=meet people and make friends)
  • What time do you get off? (=stop working)
  • Her continual chatting is getting on my nerves. (=to make angry)


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