top of page
  • Writer's pictureAlex

How to Use "Get" in English: Meanings, Uses, and Common Phrases (AUDIO reading included)

Scroll to the bottom of the page for related videos and materials.

"Get" is one of the most versatile and frequently used words in the English language. Because it is used in so many ways, it can be challenging for English learners to master. This page is meant to be a reference to show you the various ways "get" is used.

Before we get started, it is important to keep in mind that there are often more accurate words to use than "get" in English, and you should try to avoid using it in formal writing, such as in academic essays or emails to prospective employers. For example, instead of writing "I got your email," you can sound more professional by writing "I received your email." Your linguistic choices are often affected by your audience.

But you're not here to learn when not to use "get." You're here because you want to learn how to use this word in everyday English situations, and because practically everyone uses it in one way or another. Well, I'm happy to help!

In order to become comfortable and confident using "get," I recommend that you practice repeating the examples below out loud, and try making your own examples using a variety of tenses. Before we really get started, here is how to conjugate "get":

Present simple: get ("You should get new shoes.")

Past simple: got ("I got some great news from my brother this morning.")

Present participle: getting ("I'm getting tired.")

Past participle: got / gotten (United States) ("She has gotten every question right so far!")

One more important note: The first two uses below are sometimes interchangeable and depend on what the speaker has in mind at the time of speaking. For example, if someone says "I got a good score on my history test," are they thinking about receiving a good score from their teacher, or about acquiring a good score because of their own hard work? Or both? In any case, "get" is correct and understood. This is also the case with "buy" and "obtain or acquire." If you say "I got some milk from the store," you bought the milk, but you also acquired it. Whatever you have in mind at the time of speaking, the end result is the same: You now have milk.

And now, here are the many ways you can use "get" in English.

Meaning: receive or come to have

"What did you get for your birthday?"

"I got a letter in the mail."

"I've gotten 10 messages from Tom today."

"I got a good score on my exam."

"She got her parents' car when she turned 18."

Meaning: acquire or obtain

"When did you get your driver's license?"

"You should get a new job."

"I need to get some sleep."

"I got a black eye this morning. I bumped into a door."

"It's too high. I can't get it."

Meaning: buy

"My mom got me socks for my birthday."

"What are you going to get at the mall?"

"Can you get this for me? I'll pay you back tomorrow."

"Do you want this? Don't worry. I can get it for you."

"Did you get bread as I asked you to?"

Meaning: arrive ["to" a place / adverb of place]

"They got to school on time."

"We won't get to the store until 5 o'clock."

"What time will you get home today?"

"What time did you get there/here?"

"The train should get here soon."

Meaning: understand [followed by what or whom one does or does not understand]

"I don't get these instructions."

"Sorry, but I didn't get that. Could you explain it differently?"

"I don't get it. Why did he quit his job?"

"I don't get him. Why is he so weird?"

"Do you get what she's trying to say?"

Meaning: take or catch (often interchangeable with "obtain," "acquire," or "come to have")

"You don't have to pick me up. I'll get a taxi." (The use of "get" in this context is most often used to talk about taxis or personal drivers. It simply means you will arrange for a taxi to come and take you where you want to go.)

"Did he get it?! Did he catch the ball?!"

"Can you get an Uber?"

"You walked all the way home by yourself? Why didn't you get a taxi?"

"Wow! I can't believe you got the plate before it hit the ground!" (Meaning, I can't believe you caught it or came to have it.)

Meaning: take and bring (This usage requires someone to go to the place where something is)

"Wait here. I'll get your jacket." (This is another specific usage that means you will obtain the jacket or acquire it by going to the place where it is. In either case, the end result is the same--you will go to where the jacket is, take it, and bring it to someone.)

"Could you get my phone, please? I think it's on the sofa."

"Can you give me two minutes? I need to get something from upstairs."

"Don't forget to get your water bottle from the kitchen."

"I went back to class to get my backpack. I realized I had forgotten it after I got outside."

Usage: part of the possessive phrase "have got"

"I've got a lot of questions."

"I haven't got any pets."

"Have you got any money?"

"She has got two younger brothers."

"He hasn't got a car."

Usage: part of the imperative "have got to" (a synonym for "have to," meaning something is an obligation or is strongly recommended)

"You've got to stop calling me so much."

"I've got to leave early today. I have a doctor's appointment."

"That can't be true. You've got to be kidding me."

"If you want him to listen to you, you've got to listen to him too."

"You've got to practice regularly if you want to see improvement in your skills."

Usage: "get to do something," meaning to have a special opportunity to do something, or to be able to do something special (A common variation of this usage is "get a chance to do something")

"If you take this job, you'll finally get to work with modern technology."

"We got a chance to see a lot of amazing places during our vacation."

"I love my job. I get to talk and work with people from all over the world!"

"Did you get to take a picture with Santa?" "Yeah! We arrived before the mall closed."

"I haven't got to see the new Batman movie yet, but I've heard it's good."

Meaning: cause, convince, or persuade [someone to do something]

"I can't believe you got him to admit he was wrong."

"My mom got me to clean my room."

"Can you get him to stop doing that? It's really annoying."

"Hey, Aazil, can I get you to switch seats with Zain?"

"You're engaged?! Wow. So, Noah finally got you to say 'yes.'"

Meaning: cause [something to do something]

"I finally got my computer to stop making that annoying buzzing noise."

"I can't get my car to start."

"Can you get it to stop?"

"This really is an amazing program. You can get it to do a million different things."

"How do you get this door to close. Can you help me?"

Meaning: make something happen (also: "get something done") (This usage is for services or work done for you by other people. The structure is GET + what/who receives the service + past participle)

"I'm going to get my hair cut tomorrow." (You will "get this done" by a hairdresser.)

"Did you get your phone fixed?"

"I need to get my wisdom teeth removed."

"You should get that looked at by a doctor."

"Are you going to get your roof replaced?"

Meaning: become [+adjective / +comparative adjective]

Please remember that the lists on this page are not exhaustive, but they are still very useful!

get angry / get angrier

"Why are you getting so angry?"

"I got angrier after you sent me that message."

get bad [at something] / get worse [at something]

"He got bad at returning my messages, so I broke up with him."

"Things keep getting worse."

get big / get bigger

"You've got so big since the last time I saw you!"

"The population keeps getting bigger and bigger."

get bored / get more bored

"This movie is too long. I'm getting bored."

"You're going to get even more bored if you just sit there while doing nothing."

get cold / get colder

"This room gets really cold in winter."

"It's getting colder. Could you turn up the heat?"

get dark / get darker

"It's getting dark. We should start walking home."

"This room is getting darker."

get divorced

"She doesn't want to get divorced."

get dressed

"I'll be downstairs in five minutes. I just need to get dressed."

get engaged

"They got engaged last week."

get excited / get more excited

"I got excited when I saw your email."

"Trust me. You'll get more excited when you actually open your gift."

get good [at something] / get better [at something]

"She took ballet classes for three years, and she got really good at it."

"You won't get better if you don't practice."

get happy / get happier

"I get really happy when I see her."

"It looks like you're getting happier these days."

get hot / get hotter

"I got hot, so I took off my jacket."

"It's going to get hotter before it gets colder. You'll probably want to take off your jacket."

get hungry / get hungrier

"I'm getting hungry. Can we stop somewhere for dinner?"

"I had got hungrier than I expected, so we decided to find a drive-thru."

get lazy / get lazier

"Don't get lazy now. You're almost finished the assignment."

"He's been getting lazier and lazier this year."

get lost / get more lost

"If you get lost on the way to the stadium, just call me."

"Why don't you just turn on your map? We're getting more lost than we were before!"

get lucky / get luckier

"They didn't deserve to win. They just got lucky."

"You'll get luckier if you start working hard."

get married

"They got married last month."

get ready

"Are you still getting ready? You've been in your room for over 20 minutes."

get rich / get richer

"You won't get rich by sitting around and doing nothing."

"How can I get richer?"

get sad / get sadder

"I get sad when I think about that time of my life."

"This story is going to get sadder before it gets better."

get sick / get sicker

"When did you get sick?"

"Put on a sweater if you don't want to get sicker."

get small / get smaller

"Don't put that shirt in the dryer or it'll get small."

"Is it just me or has this room gotten smaller?"

get thirsty / get thirstier

"You're going to get thirsty, so you should bring a water bottle or something."

"I've been getting thirstier for the past 30 minutes. Can I have one of your juice boxes?"

get tired / get more tired

"Don't run so fast. You're going to get tired too quickly."

"By the end of the day, I got more tired than I thought possible."

get warm / get warmer

"Thanks for turning up the heat. It's getting warmer in here."

"Is it getting warm in here, or is it just me?"

Usage: replacement for the verb "be" in some passive sentences (GET + past participle [+ BY + agent])

get accepted

"I got accepted by the university enrollment committee!"

get beaten

"Their team got beaten four to one last night."

get chosen / get picked / get selected [for something / to do something]

"He got chosen to be the captain of the team."

"If it were an option, would you want to get picked for that position?"

"He wishes he had got selected for the scholarship."

get criticized

"Your department has been getting criticized a lot by everyone lately. What's going on in there?"

get damaged

"Several houses got damaged by the storm."

get delivered

"Did the message get delivered in time?"

get done

"Is this project ever going to get done?"

get fired

"Jenna got fired by Denise last week. I hope she's doing okay."

get hacked

"You should get stronger virus protection if you don't want your computer to get hacked."

get hit

"He got hit by a car."

get hurt

"Be careful. I don't want you to get hurt."

get paid

"We're going to get paid on Thursday."

get promoted

"I have great news. I got promoted! I start my new job next week!"

get pulled over (usually by the police)

"I got pulled over by the police for speeding."

get rejected

"I applied for the position, but I got rejected."

get scolded

"Did you ever get scolded in school?"

get stolen

"His car got stolen."

get told [+"that" clause / "to do" something / "wh-" clause]

"I got told that we had to be there early."

"He got told to wait here."

"I didn't get told what to do."

Phrasal Verbs and Other Idioms with "GET"

get a grip / get it together

keep or recover one's self-control

"You've been acting strange lately. I think you need to take a day off and get a grip."

get along [with someone] (North America) / get on [with someone] (UK and related regions)

to have a good/friendly relationship [with someone]

"Do you get along with your dad?"

"Yes. We get along well."

get back to someone

to reply to someone's message/question/etc.

"I'll get back to you as soon as I can."

get by

to do enough to survive

"How are you doing in your math class?"

"It has been tough, but I'm getting by."

get going

to start moving towards a location, goal, etc.; to start going

"We should get going if we don't want to be late."

get in / get into [an enclosed area]

to enter a place (a room, a car, etc.)

"Get in the car. There's plenty of room in the back seat."

(You get in/into a car, a taxi, a truck, a limo, an Uber, etc.)

get on / get onto [a form of (usually public) transportation]

to enter a form of public transportation, or to sit on a bike, motorcycle, animal, etc.

"I'm just about to get on the train. I'll be home in 30 minutes."

(You get on/onto a bus, plane, train, boat, subway/metro, etc.)

get one's act together

to become organized and more serious; stop being careless/lazy/indecisive/etc.

"Tina has really gotten her act together since the divorce."

get out

to go outside / to escape or exit a place or situation

"You need to get out more."

"Don't get out of the car yet. I want to talk to you about something."

"Did you hear that Helen got out of jail?"

get out [of an enclosed space]

to exit a place (a room, a car, etc.)

"Get out of the kitchen. You're distracting me."

get out of hand

become wild and/or chaotic (also: "get out of control")

"Your constant complaints are getting out of hand."

get over [something]

to recover from something (an illness, a traumatic situation, etc.)

"I've been getting over a cold for eight days now."

"She still hasn't gotten over getting fired."

"You never get over the death of someone you love."

get over [someone]

to stop obsessing about someone you were in a relationship with; to recover after ending a relationship with someone

"It has been ten months. It's time for you to get over Zack."

get up

to leave one's bed in the morning / to rise from a sitting or lying position

"What time did you get up this morning?"

"Get up! It's time to go back to work."

Other common uses and collocations

"We should get started." ("We should begin.")

"I got this." ("I can do this." / "I can do it.")

"I've got a headache / a stomachache/ an earache / a cold."

"Get a life!" (Used for expressing frustration with someone who cares too much about unimportant things or who gets involved in things that don't apply to them or affect them directly.)

"Are you going to get revenge for what they did to you?"

"Don't get mad. Get even." (This is encouraging someone to do something to get revenge on someone.)

"When do you want to get together?" (Meaning, when do you want to meet?)

"You need to get serious about this."

"Let's get it done!" ("Let's do it!")

That's it! I hope you got a lot of useful vocabulary from this page. If you enjoyed it and you would like to learn MORE about "get" and many other practical English words, phrases, and sentences, consider purchasing one of my books. By doing so, you are supporting your own English progress and my ability to continue making resources like this one for you. Here is one of my practical books that might interest you:

Thank you! Until next time, I wish you success in your English practice.

Related videos

Related blog post


bottom of page