5 Ways to Use “Get”

Americans use the verb “get” all the time, but it doesn’t always have the same meaning. This is because “get” is part of many idioms and expressions in English. Here are 5 common ways Americans use the word “get.”

  1. Receive or Obtain – In general, “get” means to receive, obtain, or acquire. In all of these meanings, someone gives you something. For example:
    – When you go to the grocery store, you get milk, eggs, butter, and bread. (The store gives you groceries if you give them money.)
    – On your birthday, you get presents from your family and friends. (Your friends and family give you presents.)
    – At the spa or salon, you get a massage, manicure, or haircut. (The spa/salon workers give you a service.)
    – Alice just got a new job at the university. (The university gave her a job.)
  2. Become – Another common way to use “get” is with the same meaning as become. After this “get,” we always use an adjective. Here are some examples:
    – I got sick last week. (I became sick.)
    – I hope you get better soon. (I hope you become better/not sick soon.)
    – It’s getting hot outside. (The weather is becoming hot.)
  3. Understand – You may have heard Americans say, “I don’t get it,” or “Do you get what I’m saying?” In this case, “get” means to understand. We use this to talk about understanding an idea or a situation. We do not use it to talk about understanding the vocabulary (words) that are used. If you don’t understand the English words, you should say, “I don’t understand.” If you understand the words, but you don’t understand the idea or the situation, you can say, “I don’t get it.”
  4. Reach, Go, or Arrive – When you ask for or give directions, you can use “get” to say that someone will reach a place by going this way. With this meaning of “get,” we always use “to” also. For example:
    – When you get to the gas station, turn right. (When you reach the gas station, turn right.)
    – If you get to the water tower, you’ve gone too far. Turn around. (If you arrive at the water tower, you should turn around because you have gone too far.)- From Raleigh, you can get to New York City in 8 or 9 hours. (Driving to New York takes about 8-9 hours from Raleigh.)
    – How do I get to I-40 from here? (Can you give me directions to I-40 from here?)
  5. In Passive Verbs – Sometimes we use “get” instead of “be” in passive voice. If you are not familiar with passive verbs, here is an introduction. Ask your teacher to explain more. Also, look at these examples of “get” in the passive:
    – Mark got fired from his job. (Mark was fired from his job. Mark’s company fired him.)
    – The bathrooms get cleaned every day. (The bathrooms are cleaned every day. Someone cleans them.)
    – Danielle gets paid every Friday. (Danielle is paid every Friday. Her company pays her.)

There are many more ways to use “get.” In a couple of weeks, we will look at some more common idioms and expressions that use it.

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn to practice. Read the following sentences. Which meaning of “get” is used in each one?

  1. I don’t get why Ben is so sad. Everything in his life looks great!
  2. Did you get our tickets to the baseball game?
  3. Emily almost got hit by a car when she was riding her bike yesterday.
  4. Michael has gotten taller since the last time I saw him.
  5. We got to the restaurant around 6:30.

Practice writing your own sentences with “get.” You can ask your teacher to check them for you, or you can write them in the comments! Try to use each meaning at least one time.

10 thoughts on “5 Ways to Use “Get”

  1. I’m always confused with the way to use “get”. This blog is very helpful for me. Now, I totally got it. Thank you.

  2. About get:
    1. I got a haircut last Saturday.
    2. I’ve told you 5 instructions ; do you get it?

  3. In the mall I saw the sign “buy one get one free”.

    Sometimes I do not get the clues to solve the math problem.

    When I lost my mobile phone I got upset

  4. I did not get my English book.

    my sister’s hear has gotten long hear since two years a go.

  5. I got a presents on my birthday last December.

    He got sick last winter.

    I don’t understand my grandchildren. I don’t get it.

  6. I have gotten more confident since I got registration in ESL class.
    sometimes,I don’t get American slang.
    last weekend I got to the shopping center to buy new dress.

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