Uses of Get

Gift wrapped book
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As any English student knows some of the most frustrating things to learn are all the various uses of 'get'. 'Get' is used as a verb by itself with various meanings. One of the most difficult areas of usage is how 'get' combines with prepositions for form phrasal verbs. Add to these problems the variations in colloquial usage and you have got a recipe for confusion! Below is a list of the principal usage of 'get' as a main verb, 'get' in idiomatic usage, and 'get' in phrasal verb combinations.

Hopefully, you will get it (i.e. understand the proper usage) after you have finished. For further examples, check out the top ten uses for get

GET Alone



To receive

I got a book for my birthday.

To earn

I get $7 an hour.

To bring or fetch

Can you get that book for me?

To understand

Do you get the lesson?

To be affected by, or catch

He got a cold last week.

To catch or take

I got the 4.55 train to New York.

To communicate with

I got him by phone.

To have a strong effect on

That film really got me.

To capture or seize

The police got him at the station.

Get in Phrasal Verbs

These are not all meanings of these phrasal verbs. I have chosen the principle meanings as a way of focusing on the principal meanings of these extremely important verbs.

Phrasal Verb



To get about (or around)

To be socially active

Tom really gets around, doesn't he?

To get ahead

To be successful

It's very difficult to get ahead nowadays.

To get away

To escape

The thief got away from the police.

To get back

To recover or retrieve

I got my books back from Tom.

To get by

To survive financially

Sally gets by on just $1,000 a month.

To get in

To enter a car, train etc.

Come on, get in! Let's go.

To get into

To be accepted

He got into the university of his choice.

To get off

To exit from a train, bus etc.

Jerry got off at 52nd Street.

To get on with

To have a good relationship with

I really get on well with Janet.

To get out

To leave

I got out of class at 3.30.

To get over

To recover from an illness or bad occurrence

He got over his operation very quickly.

To get through

To succeed in an examination, test etc.

That was a difficult test to get through, wasn't it?

To get up

To get out of bed

I got up at 7 this morning.

Get - Idiomatic Usage

'Get' is often used in an idiomatic manner. For example, in the sentence 'I don't get it' the verb 'get' is used as a synonym to mean 'understand'. 





To have to (US)

I gotta go it's late

Have got to

To have to (US)

I've got to hurry up!

To get down to business

To begin working

Tom arrived at 12 and immediately got down to business.

To get together

To meet

Let's get together this weekend.

To get it together


Get something

To improve one's performance

To understand

Come on! Get it together, you are playing horrible tennis.

Do you get what he means?

Get Quiz 

Check your understanding of these various uses of 'get' by selecting the synonym closest in meaning to the original.

  1. They got him by hacking into his smart phone. catch / capture / meet
  2. I think it's time for us to get out of the shipping business.  receive / leave / meet
  3. I'm afraid I don't get the problem at all. be successful / understand / leave
  4. My son got into Harvard last month. recover / be socially active / be accepted
  5. Let's get together soon! escape / receive / meet
  6. Could you get the paper for me? leave / exit / fetch
  7. How long did it take you to get over the flu? be accepted / recover from / return
  8. How much do you get for teaching English? return / meet / earn
  9. I wish he would get it together! improve / enter / earn
  10. If you want to get ahead, you'll have to work hard! be accepted / be successful / meet


  1. capture
  2. leave
  3. understand
  4. be accepted
  5. meet
  6. fetch
  7. recover from
  8. earn
  9. improve
  10. be successful