Let’s get started with the English verb GET

English Language

How to use the verb GET

Posted 26 November

Many years ago a student of mine said one of the best thing I’ve ever heard in the classroom: “When I don’t know the verb, I say get!!”

In fact, this student had really made a very sharp observation about English and the use of the verb get. After all, we find get everywhere - it really gets a lot of use if you get me and it's getting more and more popular which has got to be a big achievement for one little verb!

So whether you are currently looking at the possibility of taking an English course online, planning on taking a Cambridge exam in the future; planning to come and learn English in Galway or indeed if you want to know how to score higher in the IELTS test knowing all you can about useful verbs such as get will certainly help!

Let’s take a look at the basics of using the wonderfully useful verb get, five common ways we use get and a couple of other secrets thrown in for good measure!

The basics

Cambridge dictionary tell us that get is an irregular verb. Its three parts are get, got, got

In American English, the past participle form gotten is common.

And of course, we all know from everyday English speaking courses and learning how to improve your writing in English that get is an incredibly common verb with a multitude of different meanings. The fact that get has multiple meanings can make it a little tricky when you first start to study English, but we must also remember that it is also an extremely useful verb to study and add to your repertoire!

On our many English courses for international students, our student learn how to improve their English speaking and writing. Our students know that the verb get is used a lot in informal language between friends and people we feel relaxed with; as well as in relaxed settings. We use it less often in formal writing as would be found in IELTS writing – you can learn more about Dos & Don’t for IELTS exam here.

GCI Students

GCI Students

6 common ways we use GET

Let’s take a look at some very common ways we use get – using it alone as the main verb – We’ve selected some excellent examples from Longman Dictionary to help your study & understanding. Why not try and come up with/ create your own examples for each meaning?

GET meaning become

  • Don’t get upset.
  • She soon got bored with the job.
  • Eat your dinner before it gets cold.

GET meaning to obtain, buy, or earn something / to receive or be given something

  • Where did you get that jacket? (= buy)
  • Joe’s going to get tickets for all of us (= buy)
  • It would be a good idea to get professional advice (= obtain)
  • We get a lot of junk mail (= receive)

GET meaning to travel somewhere in a train, bus, or other vehicle

  • You can get a bus to the station
  • I got the 9.15 train from Dublin to Galway

GET meaning to reach or arrive at a particular place/ point

  • We didn’t get home until midnight (= arrive)
  • I’ve got as far as chapter 5 (= reached)
  • I couldn’t wait to get to the end of the book (= reach)

GET meaning to understand or hear something

  • I don’t think she got the joke (= understood)
  • I don’t get it – it doesn’t make sense (= understand)

Student Portrait: Lisiane Memlak from Brazil

Phrasal verbs with GET

Of course that’s not the only way we use GET – we can use it alone as in the examples above but tricky old get can also combine with a variety of prepositions to form phrasal verbs with a wide range of meanings. Anyone who has taken the Cambridge First exam (FCE) or the Cambridge Advanced exam (CAE) will know how important it is to improve your English vocabulary including phrasal vebs!

GET really is the over-achiever of verbs in English – it can truly do it all!!

There are verbs like get up – get out of – get rid of – all sorts! Let’s take a look at a few examples below with examples from Oxford Learner Dictionary. Again, perhaps you can try to use them yourself by writing your own examples or using them in your next English conversation.

To get up

He always gets up early.

To get out of

She almost fell when she was getting out of the car (= exiting)

We promised we'd go—we can't get out of it now. (= avoid this duty)

To get rid of

I can't get rid of this headache. (= make yourself free of something)

We got rid of all the old furniture.

To get on / along with

She's never really got on with her sister.

We get along well. (=have a friendly relationship with somebody)

To get down to

Let's get down to business. (= to give serious attention to something)

It's time I got down to thinking about that essay.

To get by

How does she get by on such a small salary? (= manage to live)

I can just about get by in German (= I can speak basic German).

Getting to know the verb 'GET'

Guess what? It doesn’t end there!! 

Many phrasal verbs can have more than one meaning so for instance with the phrasal verb get off the meanings can include:

·       to tell somebody to stop touching you or another person. Example: Get off me, that hurts!

·       to leave work with permission Example: Could I get off (work) early tomorrow?

·       to stop discussing a particular subject; to make somebody do this. Example: Please can we get off the subject of dieting?

We hope you enjoyed our blog all about get – though in fact we’ve only just started! Perhaps we’ll look more at this extremely handy verb again in the future.

I’m sure you’ll agree that this kind of blog is good for all students of English:

- if you are learning English as a second language online

- if you want to focus on English speaking courses online

- if you want to know how to learn English grammar online

-  if you maybe just want to learn English vocabulary online 

- or even if you want to learn English in Galway but perhaps have to wait a little longer before you can make your trip here to the Wild Atlantic Way!

Keep an eye out for upcoming GCI blogs which will help you to study English with new ideas and more useful things to know in English.

Galway Cultural Institute is an expert language school located in the west of Ireland in the beautiful coastal city of Galway. 

We offer English course in Ireland for international students and from 2020, a wide range of online English coursesGeneral English course for grammar, IELTS preparation online, Cambridge exam preparation online and even business English online.

Study in the heart of Galway, Ireland

Improve your English skills in Galway and gain an internationally recognised certificate with our Cambridge English exam preparation courses.

Explore more English courses