10 English idioms and informal expressions with GET


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Hello, students! How are you today? Today’s question comes from a student who was watching a movie. In this movie, one character said to another, “Get lost,” so the student is asking what this expression means in context. Today, I’ll explain this phrase and also teach you some other informal expressions with the word “get.”

Get lost!

“Get lost,” when used in a normal sentence, has a simple meaning: not to know where you are. For example, “I got lost in the city while looking for the subway station.”

But when “get lost” is used as a command, when you tell another person, “Get lost!” – you’re telling them to go away because you don’t want them near you. Now, this is a rude way to do it, so you would only tell someone to “get lost” if you’re very annoyed or very angry at them.

For example, let’s say you have a teenage boy who wants to spend some time alone with his girlfriend at the carnival, but the teenage boy’s younger brother keeps following the couple around, even though they tried to get rid of him. Eventually, the teenage boy might turn to his little brother and say, “Get lost!” He’s telling his brother angrily to go away.

Get a life!

Another expression is “get a life.” If you tell someone to “get a life,” you’re telling them to find something more interesting or worthwhile to invest their time and energy in, because currently they are focusing on things that are boring or insignificant.

For example, if your cousin loves to collect stamps and he spends all day studying his stamp collection, you might say, “Are you going to spend all weekend looking at your stamps? Come on, man! Get a life!”

This expression is also a little bit rude because you’re implying that the person is focusing on things that are boring or stupid and they should find something more interesting to get involved in.

Get a grip!

Another informal expression with “get” is “get a grip.” If you tell someone, “Get a grip,” or “Get a grip on yourself,” you are telling them to control their emotions and act more calmly. You would say “Get a grip” to someone who is acting very agitated and upset or crazy, especially in a situation where they really need to be calm.

For example, if your brother is going in for a job interview and he’s very nervous and he’s worrying about everything and his emotions are just going crazy, you would tell him, “Hey, get a grip!” because you want him to control himself before he goes into the interview.

Or if your sister spills some coffee on her new pants and she’s freaking out, she’s acting crazy and complaining, then you might say, “Get a grip! Just put the pants through the wash and they’ll be as good as new.”

Get off my case!

Another one is “get off my case.” Let me start off by explaining what it means for someone to be “on your case.” If a person is on your case about something, it means they are persistently reminding you, criticizing you or pressuring you or telling you what to do.

For example, my parents are on my case about cleaning my room. They remind me every day and it’s getting really annoying, so if I told them, “Get off my case!” I’m telling them to stop – stop persistently reminding me and nagging me (that means reminding me in an annoying way). That’s what it means when you tell someone to get off your case. It means, “Leave me alone about this topic or action that you’ve been reminding me and pressuring me to do.”

get flak

One more expression with “get” is “get flak.” This is a slang way to say receive criticism. For example, if a television channel airs a sexy commercial during a children’s show, the TV channel would get flak from viewers. The viewers would begin complaining and criticizing the channel. “The TV channel got flak from the viewers after it aired a sexy commercial during a children’s show.”

If I am the manager of a store and I decide to make my employees work longer hours without paying them extra, I would get flak from my staff. I would be criticized by my employees.

get the hang of (something)

One very common expression that we can use in daily life is “get the hang of something.” When you get the hang of something, it means you start to have the ability to do it after some practice or time.

For example, when I first started learning how to ice skate, I fell down a lot because I didn’t have the ability to balance, but after a while, I got the hang of it. I started to have the ability to skate successfully without falling down.

get to the bottom of this

One expression that you might hear in the context of a mystery or an investigation is “get to the bottom of this.” To get to the bottom of something simply means to discover the truth or discover the real reason for something.

For example, if some money goes missing from a company, the investigators might say, “Don’t worry, we’ll get to the bottom of this,” meaning they will discover the reason the money is missing or who took it.

get bent out of shape

One funny expression is “get bent out of shape.” If someone gets bent out of shape, it has nothing to do with the position of their body. To get bent out of shape means to become angry, upset or offended, especially about something which in your opinion doesn’t justify such a reaction.

For example, my roommate is a neat freak. A neat freak is someone who is obsessive about being clean and organized to an extreme degree. My roommate is a neat freak and he gets bent out of shape if I just leave a single spoon on the kitchen counter. If I do this, he gets annoyed, upset, angry or offended. He gets bent out of shape.

get a load of…

One more informal phrase with “get” is “Get a load of that.” This is another expression that would be very confusing if you tried to interpret it literally. “Get a load of that” simply means “look at that!” We use this expression to call attention to something that is especially amazing, surprising, shocking or even ridiculous.

If you’ve just moved in to a regular new apartment and you want to show your friends the pictures, then you might say, “Look at the pictures of my new apartment,” or “Check out the pictures of my new apartment.” That simply means “Look at this.”

But if you’ve just moved into a spectacular luxury apartment, which has an amazing view from the balcony, then you might say, “Get a load of the view from my balcony!” You’re calling special attention to something that’s especially amazing.

get (something) off your chest

Finally, we have the expression “get something off your chest.” This means to release a burden of emotions that you had been keeping inside you, and the emotions had been weighing heavily on your heart and mind.

For example, if you’re really frustrated about your job and you have a lot of pent-up feelings (pent-up feelings are feelings that you keep inside without expressing them to anybody), and then one day you go out for drinks with your friend and you just explain everything, you complain about your job, you whine about your boss, and you just let all that emotion out, afterwards you could say, “Ah! Feels good to finally get that off my chest!” You have released the burden of your heavy emotions.

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That’s just a small sampling of the many colorful informal expressions that we have in the English language using the word “get.” In order to remember these phrases better, I suggest trying to write your own sentences with them!

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