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Get is an irregular verb. Its three parts are get, got, got. In American English, the -ed form gotten is common.

Get is a very common verb, especially in informal speaking and writing. Get has many different meanings and is used in many idioms. We use it less often in formal writing. Get has many different grammatical patterns depending on the meaning.

Get meaning ‘fetch’, ‘receive’, ‘obtain’

We commonly use get + object or get + indirect object + direct object when we mean, very generally, ‘fetch’ or ‘receive’ or ‘obtain’. In these examples the object is underlined:

When are you going to get your new car?

They were all dismissed from the firm but two of them managed to get new jobs within a week.

These examples have an indirect object (io) and a direct object (do):

Can you get [IO]me [DO]an ice-cream? Thanks.

Can we stop here? I need to get [IO]Fiona and Steven [DO]some cash from the cash machine.

Get meaning ‘become’

We commonly use get + adjective to mean ‘become’ or to describe a change of state or situation:

Put your coat and scarf on or you’ll get cold.

Let’s hope she gets better soon.

It’s getting dark.

Get describing negative events

We can use get + -ed form to describe things that happen to us, often things which are unfortunate and which we don’t want to happen. We call this pattern the get passive:

The cottage got really badly damaged in the floods last year.

Sorry we’re late. The train got delayed for over an hour outside Manchester.

Get meaning ‘cause something to happen’

When we use get + object (o) + -ed form, we say that we cause something to happen or to be done. It is a less formal way of saying have something done:

I’m getting the computer repaired on Monday.

I’m going to the supermarket so I’ll get your jacket cleaned if you like.

We also use get + noun phrase object (o) + object complement (oc) to mean that we cause something to happen:

[at a hotel reception desk]

Sorry to keep you waiting. We’re just getting [O]the bill [OC]ready for you now.

Get + object + infinitive with to, and get + object + -ing form have similar meanings of ‘cause or persuade to happen’:

They got me to talk to the police, even though I knew it wouldn’t help. (They persuaded me to talk to the police …)

Can you help me get this printer working?

Get is a word with many different meanings. You will find other meanings of get, and phrasal verbs with get, in a good learner’s dictionary.

(“Get” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press. Need grammar practice? Try English Grammar Today with Workbook.)
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