Using Get

Get is a common word in English. Its meaning depends on the kind of word that comes after it.

Get + noun/pronoun

When get is followed by a direct object, it usually means receive, fetch, obtain, earn or something similar.

  • I have got an invitation to their party.
  • I will buy a car if I get my rise.

Get can have two objects.

  • Can you get me a coffee?
  • Let me get you a drink.

Get + adjective

When get is followed by an adjective, it usually means become.

  • Get ready to leave in five seconds.
  • When I get nervous, I get angry.

The structure get + object + adjective is also possible. It usually describes situations where we want someone else to do something for us.

  • Can you get the children ready for school?

Get + adverb particle/preposition

Before an adverb particle or a preposition, get almost always refers to a movement of some kind.

  • I often get up at seven o’ clock.

With an object, the structure usually means make somebody or something move.

  • Can you get the children to bed?
  • I have got the doctor to call tomorrow.

Get + Past Participle

Get can be used with a past participle. This structure is often used to talk about things that we do to ourselves. Common expressions are get married, get divorced, get engaged, get lost, get dressed etc.

  • They are getting married in May.
  • I never get interviewed.
  • Get dressed in five minutes.

The structure get + object + past participle often has a passive meaning. It usually means arrange for something to be done by somebody else.

  • We are getting the house painted.
  • I must get my hair cut.
  • We must get the roof repaired before monsoon sets in.

This structure may also describe situations where something is done to us.

  • I got my car stolen last night.
  • They got their roof blown off in the storm.

With a time expression, this structure refers to the completion of an activity.

  • You must get the job done before lunchtime.
  • Get those orders placed as soon as possible.
Get can be followed by adjectives and past participles.

Get + adjective

Get can be followed by an adjective. In this case, it means become.

  • He doesn’t need a reason to get angry.
  • As we get older, we get wiser.
  • I am getting cold.
  • Nobody wants to get old.

Get + object + adjective

The structure get + object + adjective means make something/somebody become.

  • I must get the kids ready for school.
  • We must get the house clean before the guests arrive.

Get + past participle

This structure is used to talk about the things we do to ourselves.

  • They are getting married in May.
  • She takes hours to get dressed.

Get + object + past participle

Sometimes we arrange for something to be done by somebody else. The structure get + object + past participle can be used to express this idea.

  • He knows how to get things done.
  • You must get that car repaired.
  • She must get that tooth extracted.
  • You must get him suspended.

This structure can also be used to talk about things (often unwanted) that happen to us.

  • I got my bike stolen last week.

Get with infinitives and ing forms

Get can be followed by an -ing form. Common expressions are: get going and get moving

  • Let’s get going.

The structure get + object + -ing form means make somebody or something start doing something.

  • Don’t get her talking about her problems.

Get can also be followed by an infinitive. This structure means manage or have an opportunity.

  • When will I get to see you again? (= When will I get an opportunity to see you again?)
  • I didn’t get to see him – he had left before I arrived. (= I didn’t manage to see him.)

The structure get to be means become.

  • Cathy is getting to be a lovely girl. (= Cathy is becoming a lovely girl.)

The structure get + object + infinitive means make somebody/something do something.

  • See if you can get her to sign that paper.
Get is one of the most common words in English and is used in many different ways. It is not considered appropriate in a very formal style when you are expected to use more precise vocabulary. However, get is correct and natural in most forms of speech and informal or semi-formal writing.

Get + noun / pronoun

Get can be followed by a noun or a pronoun. In this case, get means receive, fetch, earn, obtain catch or something similar.

  • I got a call from James yesterday. (= I received a call from James yesterday.)
  • I have got your letter.
  • Will you get the kids from school? (= Will you fetch the kids from school?)
  • He gets $300 a month. (= He earns $300 a month.)
  • Can you come and get me from the airport?
  • Whenever I listen to loud music, I get a headache.
  • I am getting a toothache.

Get can be followed by two objects – a direct object and an indirect object.

  • OK. I will get you a drink. (Indirect object – you; direct object – a drink)

Get can mean understand.

  • Did you get me? (= Did you understand what I said?)

Get can also mean punish.

  • The taxmen will get you in the end.
Notes

In American English, the past participle form of get is gotten, except in the structure have got.

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Manjusha Nambiar

I am the founder and editor of http://www.perfectyourenglish.com, http://www.ielts-practice.org, and http://ncertguides.com

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