20 different ways to use the word GET in English

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Hello students, and welcome to day 2 of our mini-course on words with multiple meanings!

Yesterday’s word was RUN, and today we’ll focus on GET. Again – a very common word, but one that is extremely versatile – this means it can be used in lots of different ways.

You already know the basic meaning of GET, but today you’re going to learn 20+ more ways to use it. Let’s get started:

get = receive

“Get” means receive. You can:

  • get a gift
  • get an email
  • get a chance (meaning to receive an opportunity)
  • get a grade on a test
  • get an award
  • get a scholarship

There are lots of collocations with GET meaning “receive.”

get = obtain

A second meaning of get is to obtain. This is a little different from receive – when you receive something, you made no effort – someone else gave it to you. If you get a gift for your birthday, you didn’t do anything to receive it.

But when you obtain something, you put in some effort. So you can get a job (you applied for the job, maybe you did an interview, and then they offered you the job).

You can get information, meaning you go and search for the information so that you have it. You can get some sleep, meaning you take the action of going to bed. You can get results at work, so you’re probably doing tasks in order to obtain results, get results.

get = buy

Get can also mean to buy. You can get tickets to a concert. If you see someone wearing a shirt you like, you can say “Where did you get that shirt?” meaning where did you buy it.

You can get something for a good price or get a bargain on something, both of which mean to pay a fair or small amount of money compared to the high value you receive.

For example, you can get a bargain on the Complete Program at Espresso English, because it’s available at a 50% discount – so you can buy it at a good price.

Another place we use “get” to mean “buy” is when we’re ordering at a restaurant or coffee shop – it’s very common to say “Can I get a large coffee?” or “Can I get some french fries?” – meaning you want to order, you want to buy that food/drink item.

Get tickets for a concert (buy them)

get = bring

We also use get in the sense of bring. If I’m already in bed and I feel cold, I might ask my husband, “Can you get me an extra blanket?” meaning can you bring it to me.

We often say “go get” when someone needs to go somewhere in order to bring back an item. Let’s say there’s a meeting at work, and there aren’t enough chairs in the meeting room – then, my assistant could go get more chairs, meaning she will go and then bring the chairs.

Or if someone’s injured, you might say “I’ll go get the first aid kit!” meaning you’ll bring it.

get = arrive

Informally, we use “get” to mean arrive. For example: I usually get home from work around 6:00 – meaning arrive at home.

You can use “get” when talking about arriving from travel – If we take the next available flight, we’ll get to New York on Monday morning.

When asking for directions, you could say “How can I get to the train station?” – how can I go there, how can I arrive there.

Learn Phrasal Verbs with Take

We’ll get to New York by noon.

get = become

Get also means become. You can get angry, get excited, get tired, get sick, get older, and get lost.

Something can get better or get worse, meaning it is becoming better or worse.

We also use it for changes in marital status: two people can get engaged (meaning they plan to marry each other), get married, and get divorced.

You can also get dressed, meaning to put on your clothes, and get ready, meaning to prepare yourself. When you get drunk it means you become intoxicated with too much alcohol, and when you get used to something it means you become accustomed to it.

All these expressions use “get” in the sense of becoming, changing status.

They got engaged last weekend.

get = understand (informal)

Another informal use of “get” is to understand. If you say “I don’t get it,” it means “I don’t understand.”

You can also say “I don’t get…” followed by a question word and the topic you don’t understand, for example:

  • I don’t get why they broke up; they seemed to have a perfect relationship.
  • I don’t get how to use this computer program.
  • Or if someone tells a joke, and you didn’t understand what’s funny about it, you could say you didn’t get the joke.

get to do something = have a special opportunity

If you get to do something, it means you have a good/special opportunity, for example:

  • If my kids finish all their homework, they get to watch a movie before bed.
  • He’s upset because he didn’t get to take a vacation last year.

have got to do something = have an obligation; should do it

On the other hand, if you have got to do something, it means you need to do it, you have an obligation to do it, or you should do it. This typically sounds like “gotta” in informal spoken English. Here are some examples of “gotta” referring to obligations:

  • I’ve gotta pick up my kids from school.
  • If you borrow books from the library, you’ve gotta return them.
  • That movie is awesome – you’ve gotta see it! (you should, a strong recommendation)

If you borrow books from the library, you’ve gotta return them.

get someone to do something = persuade/convince the person to do it

When you get someone to do something, it means you persuade/convince the person to do it.

  • After a lot of discussion, I finally got him to agree with me.
  • It’s hard to get my kids to help with housework.

get something done = cause it to happen

Finally, when you get something done, it means you make or cause it to happen. Sometimes this means doing it yourself, and other times it means you cause someone else to do it for you. For example:

  • I like to get all my housework done by noon. (This means I finished it myself)
  • My car has broken down – I need to get it fixed. (This means I will probably take it to a mechanic and they will fix it)

My car has broken down – I need to get it fixed.

Phrasal verbs with GET

GET is also used in a ton of phrasal verbs… and even many of these phrasal verbs ALSO have multiple meanings! Here’s just a sample of a few common phrasal verbs with get.

To get along with someone means to have a good relationship with them, without conflict. Or we could say the opposite, not get along with someone, meaning two people don’t like each other or have conflict/tension in their relationship.

  • I’m glad I get along with all my coworkers.
  • I don’t get along with one of my cousins; I find her so annoying.

The phrasal verb get around is used for managing to go places, physically. If you have a broken leg, you would find it difficult to get around on crutches. Some cities, like London, have an extensive public transportation system, so it’s easy to get around, to manage to go from place to place.

It’s hard to get around on crutches.

Next, we have get back. This can mean to return to a place – for example, I’m going shopping at a bunch of stores, and I’m not sure what time I’ll get back.

There’s another meaning for this phrasal verb, and that is when we say get back at someone, it means to take revenge; to do something to hurt a person who hurt us in the past.

The expression get over means to recover emotionally from a difficult experience. If someone you love dies, it would take you a long time to get over it.

Another way to use this expression is as a command, telling someone “Get over it!” – we do this when the person is continuing to be sad/upset over something minor or silly, and we want them to stop obsessing about a minor problem.

When it comes to transportation, we get into / get out of cars, and get on / get onto / get off trains, buses, planes, bicycles, and motorcycles.

We get into a car, but get onto a bicycle

Idioms with GET

To finish up this lesson, let’s look at a couple idioms with get. The word get is used in hundreds of idioms… so this is just a small taste. If you’d like to focus more on idioms, you can join my 300+ Idioms Course for a lot more expressions.

Our first idiom is to get wind of something, which means to learn about or hear about some secret, usually indirectly. Let’s say a teenager is planning to have a party while his parents are out of the house – but then his parents get wind of it, they learn about this secret, when they see a comment he made on social media. They discovered the secret in an indirect way.

When a celebrity or famous person is involved in a divorce, they often try to keep the details private because when the media gets wind of it, then they will publish all the information about it.

Get wind of something = hear about / learn about it indirectly

Another idiom is to get your act together. This means to take action to become well-organized and better-prepared. For example, let’s say your friend Maria has started and stopped studying English many times in the past, never really taking it seriously. She could decide to get her act together by committing to an English course and establishing a regular schedule for studying. She has taken action to be better organized.

One very informal expression you might hear in TV shows or casual conversations is “Get a load of this!” – we say that when we want to call someone’s attention to something that seems especially notable or interesting. If you see a luxury car you know is worth $100,000, you could say to your friend, “Get a load of that car!” because you want your friend to notice it.

Sometimes people also say “Get a load of this” when they are about to share some scandalous information; for example – “Get a load of this – our college professor was fired because he was flirting with one of his students.”

Sometimes when you’re doing a task, you enter a state where you really have all your energy focused on it, you’re totally concentrating on it, and as a result you are working or learning very smoothly and efficiently. Entering this state of concentration is called getting in the groove.

Sometimes when I’m writing English lessons, I get in the groove and the ideas come very easily to my mind because I’m so focused and fully immersed in the task. Or maybe you like to do a big cleaning of your house once a month, you take the whole day to get in the groove and fully clean your house from top to bottom.

get in the groove = enter a state of focused concentration, so that you make progress easily

I hope my lessons can help you get in the groove when it comes to studying English – my goal with Espresso English is to help you learn in a way that’s easy, efficient, and fun. That’s all for today – make sure to tune in for tomorrow’s video on words with multiple meanings.

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