“Get” is getting to me



What an annoying little word “get” is. It gets everywhere. Like there, for instance. It’s a small, ugly monosyllable which, seemingly, we would find very hard to eradicate from English, especially from spoken English. Alternatively, you could take the view that “get” is an extremely useful and versatile word which gets you out of a few situations where you otherwise wouldn’t know what word to use.

Give it a go. For instance, in all the following sentences “get” (or “getting”) has a different meaning. In each case can you think of one word which could replace it? Or do you sometimes need several words? Sometimes you will probably need to change the sentence construction if you don’t use “get” and in at least one case it’s hard to think of any replacement at all. Have a go then check the suggested answers.

  1. She’ll get him to do it.
  2. I’m going to get a new car.
  3. He’ll get it from the library.
  4. He’s getting tired.
  5. That dog gets everywhere!
  6. He can’t get the knot undone.
  7. I’ll get you for that!
  8. We need to get there before ten.
  9. They get the 8.30 train every morning.
  10. That film gets me every time.
  11. Don’t you get the joke?
  12. They don’t get what he means.
  13. Get started then!
  14. Did you get it all down on paper?
  15. All that alcohol will get her in the end.
  16. How did they get to her house?
  17. I need to get dinner.
  18. His moaning really gets me.
  19. I don’t know how he got that catch.
  20. Get writing!

You can see some suggestions here. You might think of better ones, of course.

What an amazing range of meanings for one little word! And then, if you follow “get” with a preposition, it has an even larger range of meanings. See whether you can  replace the “get” phrase (get + preposition) with one word in these sentences. As before, you’ll sometimes need to use several words and maybe change the structure of the sentence if you simply can’t think of one word that will do it.

21  He gets about, doesn’t he!

22  He gets it across

23  I’m sure she’ll get ahead.

24  You’re just trying to get round me!

25  They may get round to doing it.

26  It’s too high – I can’t get at it.

27  She keeps getting at him for some reason.

28  We just can’t get through to him.

29  I’ve tried ringing, but I can’t get through.

30  Let’s get down to business.

31  It’s a problem, but you’ll get round it.

32  We need to get away early.

33  What are they getting up to now?

34  I don’t want to but I can’t get out of it.

35  She gets off lightly every time.

36  Get with it, will you!

37  How did he get to be famous?

38  Don’t worry – you’ll get through it.

39  Get out of here!

40  All this arguing gets me down.

41  You won’t get away with it.

42  He gets up at seven every day.

43  They just don’t get on.

44 She’ll never get over it.

45  There’s a lot of work to get through.

46  Sorry – I didn’t get to do it.

47  They have just enough to get by on.

48  How are they getting on with the new project?

49  Get down and boogie!

50  He’s getting on a bit.

51  It gets me out of a difficult position.

52  You’re just trying to get in with him.

53  I just want to get it over with.

Suggestions for 21-53 can be found here.


And, finally, a few other “get” expressions:

54She’s been trying to get hold of him for two days.

55  I need to get rid of it.

56  Sooner or later they’ll get even with him

57  Can you come to our get-together?

58  That’s a strange get-up you’re wearing!

59  He’s lost his get-up-and-go.

60  I told her where to get off.

Possible replacements for 54-60 can be found here.

Generally speaking, using “get” will sound more casual and informal than an alternative word or phrase. Sometimes, though, the alternative sounds just strange or contrived. Which examples in particular?

Looking back through the huge list of meanings, it’s obvious that this little word has made itself almost indispensible. Try it and see: set yourself the challenge of going a whole day without saying “get”. Can you manage it? Would the English language be better without “get”? Let me know how you get on!

And have you thought of any more uses for “get” which I haven’t mentioned?

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