#205: 9 Ways to Use GET in English Conversation

by | May 12, 2021 | 12 comments

Here’s a tricky question for you. What does ‘get’ mean in each of these phrases:

  • How do you get to work?
  • She got a new haircut. 
  • Did you get what he said?
  • They’re getting married next month.

Recently, one of my students said she was really surprised and confused when someone asked her, “How do you get to work?” 

She wasn’t sure about using the verb ‘get’ in that sentence.

If you look up the word ‘get’ in the dictionary, you might be surprised to find more than a dozen different meanings and uses of the verb.

On top of that, English speakers LOVE to use ‘get’ in conversation.

In this Confident English lesson today, you’ll discover why English speakers use this verb so often plus get 9 different ways you can use ‘get’ in casual English conversations.

9 Ways to Use GET in English Conversation

First, why do English speakers love to use ‘get?’

The simple truth is it’s easy and it’s casual. In conversation, we’re naturally more informal. By replacing some verbs with ‘get’ we relax or simplify our speech. 

Let me give you a quick example:

I could tell my friend, “I have to cancel our dinner plans. I’ve contracted the flu.”

Sure, it makes sense. But it sounds more like a business meeting rather than a quick text or call to my friend. 

To make it more casual, I can simply say, “I can’t go to dinner tonight. I’ve got the flu.”

 

Similarly, if I want to talk about an opportunity to sleep later than normal I could say:

Yesterday I had the opportunity to sleep in. vs. Yesterday I got to sleep in.

Both are correct. But the second is far more casual and is more likely in casual conversation.

 

The important thing to know is that using the word ‘get’ to replace other verbs is simply an option or an alternative. 

There isn’t a right or wrong. Instead, you’re learning to add variety to how you speak in English AND you’re learning to better understand native English speakers as well because you’ll hear them use ‘get’ in a variety of surprising ways, just as my student noted.

Get = To obtain, buy, receive

  • I got a new car.
  • Did you get a haircut?
  • Have you become a Confident English Community member yet? When you do, you’ll get an email from me every Wednesday with my latest lesson.
  • I got the job!!! 
  • She got an A on her exam.
  • We’re getting some new office furniture next week.
  • I got a beautiful book about Melbourne, Australia in the mail recently. 
  • Will you stop at the store on your way home to get some milk?

Let’s pause here and look at the structure of these sentences. What do you notice? 

  • Got a new car.
  • Get a haircut.
  • Get an email.
  • Got the job.
  • Getting new furniture.

The verb ‘get’ is followed by a noun (or, if you want to get very technical, a direct object).

Get = To reach/arrive at a destination/place

  • How do you get to work?
  • I get home every day at 5:30 PM. 
  • How are you getting home after the party? Are you walking or taking the metro?
  • I apologize for getting to work late this morning.
  • She’ll get here tomorrow afternoon.

If you normally work outside of your home, how do you get to work? And what time do you usually get home?

Get = To become

  • I’m getting hungry!
  • She’s getting married in August.
  • It’s getting cold outside.
  • I’m getting tired of all his complaining. 
  • They’re getting excited about going back to school.
  • I hope you get better soon!

Notice the structure here with get + adjective.

    Get = To understand

    • Did you get all that?
    • I got you. (I understand.)
    • One thing I love most about my best friend is she really gets me. (She understands me.)
    • Do you get what I’m trying to say?
    • Do you get what I mean?

        Get = To catch, to be affected by, to contract an illness

        • I’ve got a cold.
        • She’s got a fever.
        • She’s got the flu.
        • He’s got allergies.

        Get = To bring, to grab

        • Could you get the wine? I left it in the kitchen.
        • I’d love to go for a walk! Let me get my coat.

            Get = To have an opportunity

            • We got to meet Barack Obama when we were vacationing in Hawaii.
            • I got to sleep in yesterday. 
            • If I get all my work done on time this afternoon, I’ll get to paint.

            Notice the structure: get + infinitive verb form.

                Get (got to do something) = to have an obligation; to have something you should do

                  • I’ve got to get to a meeting. (I must go to a meeting.)
                  • I’m sorry, I’ve got to go. (I need to leave.)
                  • You’ve got to try this! It’s delicious! (You should try this!)

                  In the video, what do you notice about my pronunciation in those examples:

                  • Gotta get to a meeting
                  • Gotta go
                  • Gotta try this

                  I’m using a form of connected speech. I’m blending the sounds. Check out the Confident English lesson for more on connected speech.

                      Get = To start/begin

                          • Let’s get going. (Start preparing to depart.)
                          • It’s time to get moving on this project
                          • We got to talking and lost track of time.

                              Now that you’ve learned 9 ways to use ‘get’ in casual English conversation, let’s do some practice. Try using get in your answers to these questions:

                              1. If you work outside the home, how do you get to work?
                              2. When did you get married? 
                              3. What have you got to do tomorrow? 
                              4. What is your number 1 strategy for getting more done during the day

                              As always, you can share with me in the comments below. It’s the best way to practice, get feedback, and learn from others in the Confident English Community.

                              ~ Annemarie

                               

                              P.S. Love this lesson? Be sure to check out:

                              7 Phrasal Verbs with ‘Run’

                               

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