Uses of Get

Gift wrapped book
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The verb get is one of my the most common in English.  Get is used as a stand alone verb with various meanings. However, get also combines with a variety of prepositions to form phrasal verbs with a wide range of meanings. 

Here is a list of uses for get as a main verb, get in phrasal verbs, get in idiomatic usage, and the present perfect form of have got to indicate possession. 

Get Alone

arrive

She got to work an hour late.

receive

I got a book for my birthday.

earn

I get $7 an hour.

bring or fetch

Can you get that book for me?

understand

Do you get the lesson?

affected by, or catch

He got a cold last week.

catch or take

I got the 4:55 train to New York.

communicate with

I got him by phone.

have a strong effect on

That film really got me.

capture or seize

The police got him at the station.

Get in Phrasal Verbs

I have chosen the main meanings to help you begin to learn phrasal verbs with get. However, these are not all meanings of these common phrasal verbs

get about

be socially activeTom really gets about, doesn't he?

get at 

mean something

I'm trying to get at the truth.

get ahead

be successful

It's very difficult to get ahead nowadays.

get away

escape

The thief got away from the police.

get back

recover or retrieve

I got my books back from Tom.

get by

To survive financially

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

get in

enter a car, train etc.

Come on, get in! Let's go.

get into

be accepted

He got into the university of his choice.

get off

exit from a train, bus etc.

Jerry got off at 52nd Street.

get on with

have a good relationship with

I really get on well with Janet.

get out

leave

I got out of class at 3.30.

get over

recover from an illness or bad occurrence

He got over his operation very quickly.

get through

succeed in an examination, test etc.

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

get up

get out of bed

I got up at 7 this morning.

Get Idiomatic Usage

Get is often used in an idiomatic manner. Here are some of get in various popular idioms. 

get to it

begin doing somethingLet's get to it! It's late.

gotta

have to

I gotta go it's late (note: not used in written English)

have got to

have to

I've got to hurry up!

get down to business

begin working

Tom arrived at 12 and immediately got down to business.

get together

meet

Let's get together this weekend.

get it together

 

get something

improve one's performance

understand

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

Do you get what he means?

Get for Possession

Get is also used to indicate possession in the present perfect use of have got. This form can indicate that someone has an object, a friend or relative, or even a situation. 

I've got two children.
Sheila has got an appointment at three o'clock.
Have you got a TV in your kitchen?

Have got is used in both American and British English though it is more common in British English. Remember that the past participle form of get is gotten in American English, but, in British English, remains got. Despite this usage, Americans also use have got to indicate possession only. In other cases, the past participle gotten is used. 

For possession:

He's got a beautiful smile.
They've got friends in Dallas.

Other forms of get in American English:

I haven't gotten through much of the work today. (get through as phrasal verb)
Andreas has gotten to work late every day this week. (get = arrive)

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. How many children have you got? - arrive / meet / have
  3. I think it's time for us to get out of the shipping business.  - receive / leave / meet
  1. I'm afraid I don't get the problem at all. - be successful / understand / leave
  2. What are you trying to get at? - have / arrive / mean
  3. My son got into Harvard last month. - recover / be socially active / be accepted
  4. Let's get together soon! - escape / receive / meet
  5. They have to get serious about their work. - are / need to be / should be
  6. Could you get the paper for me? - leave / exit / fetch
  7. Have you got any time next week? - have / arrive / meet
  8. How long did it take you to get over the flu? - be accepted / recover from / return
  9. How much do you get for teaching English? - return / meet / earn
  10. I wish he would get it together! - improve / enter / earn
  11. If you want to get ahead, you'll have to work hard! - be accepted / be successful / meet
  12. Let's get away for the weekend. - recover from / meet / escape

Answers:

  1. capture
  2. have
  3. leave
  4. understand
  5. mean
  6. be accepted
  7. meet
  8. need to be
  9. fetch
  10. recover from
  11. have
  12. earn
  13. improve
  14. be successful
  15. escape