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Updated: Jan 30, 2023

This article is about a versatile verb ‘get’. It has many different meanings and uses which confuse quite a few students.

I’m sure you rather use traditional verbs than ‘get’ phrases, right? Native speakers use these phrases in conversation much more, though. So, you should give them a go too. I’m sure you have heard them in films or some podcasts too. Don’t they sound cool?

In this article, I am going to try to show you some examples how ‘get’ can be used.

‘Get’ can have the following meanings:

1 Receive

· get an e-mail, get a present, get an award, get a parcel

I got new headphones.

Have you got my email?

2 Take/catch

· get a taxi, get the bus, get the train

Monika gets the bus to work.

We couldn’t get a taxi because it was a remote area.

3 Obtain/buy

· get a job, get a flat, get shoes, get something for a good price

We had to get a new approval for the project.

Could you get more coffee?

4 Become

· get + adjective or get + comparative adjective

· get married, get divorced, get tired, get angry, get dark, get lost, get cold, get better, get worse, get used to

Our boss is getting divorced, so he is a bit moody.

The situation can’t get any worse.

5 Understand

I didn’t get the joke, sorry.

Mike didn’t get what I said, but he was still nodding in agreement.

6 Arrive at/in

· get home, get there, get here, …

· get + to + a place: get to work, get to the theatre, get to school

How did you get home? Your car is in the garage.

We got to Zanzibar after more than 26 hours. What a long journey!

7 Bring/fetch

Rex, get the bone. Come on! Go and get it!

Could you get me some ice-cream, please?

As you can see, there are a lot of phrases instead of which you could use different verbs such as:

get better = improve

get worse = deteriorate

These one-word verbs are important to keep in memory too. If you need to write in a formal way, these one-word verbs need to be used instead of the ‘get’ phrases.


‘Get’ can be also found in combination with other words such as off/out/in/up. When looking up their meanings, they need to be considered as one verb. The phrasal verbs, the different combinations, have different meanings. So, keep your eyes open and check if there is something after ‘get’.

Here are some examples of phrasal verbs with ‘get’:

  • get on – enter a bus, train, bike, boat, or plane

  • get off – descend from a bus, train, bike, boat, or plane

  • get up – leave your bed in the morning

  • get in - enter a car, swimming pool or container

  • get out – exit from a car, swimming pool or container

  • get back – return

  • get over – recover from a sickness or difficult situation (e.g. a break up)

  • get by – manage

  • get at = try to suggest something without saying it directly (What are you getting at?)

= manage to reach (I put biscuits up here where the kids can’t get at them.)

  • get across – successfully communicate and idea

  • get ahead in – be more successful than other people

  • get through – make contact with

  • get away with – do something without being caught or punished

  • get on/along with – have a good relationship

  • get together = meet, spend time together (also about sexual/romantic relationship)


‘Get’ can make a passive structure too. However, it is more informal than the normal passive construction (be + past participle). It is often used to talk about bad or unexpected things that have happened. This passive form with ‘get’ is NOT used when we describe who or when something was done.

Our car was damaged yesterday. --> Our car got damaged yesterday.

Our children were caught stealing veggies in our neighbour's garden. --> Our children got caught stealing veggies in our neighbour's garden.


In informal spoken English, we can also use this structure instead of have + object + past participle to say that someone else does something for you (mostly about favours or services)

Eliska got her wedding dress tailored.

We’re going to get the website set up by a professional.

Joseph needs to get his beard cut. It’s too long.

We’ll get our house refurbished. Everything is shabby.


This phrase means 'make', 'tell', 'persuade', or 'ask' sb (to) do something.

I'll get my secretary to call you asap.

We got them to sign the contract after hours of negotiation.


It is used to talk about the process of becoming accustomed to or familiar with something.

If you still do not have enough, check out more phrases with ‘get’:

  • gotta = got to = have to >> I gotta go. / I gotta pay the bills somehow.

  • have got to = have to >> I have got to help those kids.

- more informal than ‘have to’

- used in American but more in British English

American English – have got – only for possession

get – got – gotten

British English – have got (present perfect) used frequently

get – got – got

  • get down to business = begin working

  • get it together = improve one’s performance/ become calm and in control of your emotions


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