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The different uses of -GET-


By Tran Thi Toan

Get is one of the commonest words in English, and is used in many different ways. It is sometimes avoided in a very formal style, but it is correct and natural in most kinds of speech and writing. The meaning of get depends on what kind of word comes after it. With a direct object, the basic meaning is ‘obtain’, ‘come to have’; with other kinds of words, the basic menaing is ‘become’, ‘come to be’.

I.Get: basic structure

1.Get + noun/ pronoun: with a direct object, get usually means ‘ receive’, ‘obtain’

Ex: I got a letter from Lucy this morning.

2.Get + adjective: getting old

Before an adjective, get usually means ‘become’

Ex: As you get old, your memory gets worse.

With object + adjective, the meaning is ‘make somebody/ something become’

Ex: It’s time to get the kids ready for school.

We must get the house clean before mother arrives.

3.Get + adverb particle or preposition: get out

Before an adverb particle (like up, away, out) or a preposition, get nearly always refers to a movement of some kind.

Ex: I often get up at five o’clock.

4.Get + past participle:

Get can be used with a past particle. This structure often has a reflexive meaning, to talk about things that we ‘do to ourselves’. Common expressions are get washed, get dressed, get lost, get engaged married/ divorced,

Ex: You’ve got five minutes to get dressed.

5.Passive auxiliary:

Get + past participle is also used to make passive structures, in the same way as be+ past participle.

Ex: My watch got broken when I was playing with the children.

6.Get ...ing, get + infinitive:

Get…ing is sopmetimes used innormally to mean ‘start… ing’, expecially in the expressions get moving, get going

Ex: We’d better get moving- it’s late.

With an infinitive, get can mean ‘manage’, ‘have an opportunity’

Ex: We didn’t get to see her- she was too busy.

7.Got and gotten:

In British English the past participle of get is got. In American English the past participle is gotten.

II.Get + Object + Verb form:

1.Causative: Get + Object + …ing means ‘ make somebody/ something start …ing’

Ex: Don’t get him talking about his illnesses.

2.Causative: Get + Object + infinitive means ‘make sb/ st do st’ or ‘persuade sb/st to do st’

Ex: I can’t get that child to go to bed.

3.Causative: Get + Object + past participle can mean ‘cause st to be done by somebody else’. The past participle has a passive meaning.

Ex: I must get my watch repaired.

4.Experience: Get + Object + past participle can sometimes be used in the sence of ‘experience’

III.Get and Go: Movement

Go is used to talk about a whole movement

Get is used when we are thinking mainly about the end of a movement- the arrival.

Ex: I go to work by car

I usally get there first.

___________The end____________

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