Grammar. 05.10.2010
Grammar Teacher

Английская грамматика: The multi-functional verb GET

Автор: Grammar Teacher

Многофункциональность (универсальность) – замечательное свойство, когда речь идет о знаниях, программном обеспечении, устройствах, технологиях и т.д. Можно объяснить ее наличие в языке жестов – в конце концов это связано с различиями культур, в которых они функционируют. Так, удар по ладони партнера в момент или после произнесения фразы «говорит» египтянину или сирийцу о том, что собеседнику понравился сказанная шутка, острая фраза, а европеец то же движение рук воспримет как проявление неуважения. Но какой невыносимой становится эта multifunctionality, когда речь заходит об иностранном языке. Вот ты сидишь, пытаясь уже полчаса перевести это чертово предложения, а среди десятка предложенных словарем значений одного и того же слова, кажется, нет ни одного, что могло бы подойти. А дальше поток демотивирующих мыслей типа «Я никогда не выучу этот язык».

One of such frustrating words is the verb GET. It is one of the 100 commonest words in the English language, and one of the top 20 verbs. It has very diverse meanings, and is used in a variety of ways. Specialists will say that it is not usually good form to use get in writing, but it’s so useful that it is difficult to avoid.

GET is used as a verb by itself with various meanings. One of the most difficult areas of usage is how "get" combines with prepositions to form phrasal verbs. Add to these problems the variations in colloquial usage and you have got ;-) a recipe for confusion! 

For example, do you know what it means to get over someone? After you and your partner separate (break up) it takes you a while to feel ok and not to love them as much as you did...when you no longer have strong feelings for them, you get over them.
What about get off the bus? Or get on the bus? When you exit something that is very a bus or a plane, you get off it. When you enter something large you get on it.

I’ve been thinking how to classify all the usages of the verb “GET” and I’ve decided to combine them in 2 groups – grammatical usage and lexical usage. Hopefully you will get it (= understand the proper usage) after you have finished.

Lexical usage of the verb “TO GET”

1. GET + noun/pronoun

When get is followed by a noun or pronoun, it usually means to obtain, to receive, to buy:
I got (=received) a postcard from Darren yesterday.
They got (=obtained) permission to live in Switzerland.
She got (=bought) a new coat from Zappaloni in Rome.

It can also be used instead of to earn:
I get (=earn) $7 an hour.

In the next example we can also use it in the sense of to catch (an illness, a bus, a criminal):

Wrap up warmly so you don’t get (=catch) a cold.
 I got (=caught) the 4.55 train to New York.
The police
got (=caught) him in the end.

Want to ask somebody to bring or fetch you something? Go ahead, use GET:

Can you get (=bring) that book for me?
Shannon went upstairs to get (=fetch) some blankets.

Actually this list seems to be endless. You can get somebody by phone (=communicate with them) as well as you may get this lesson (=understand it) or some film or book can get you (=have a strong effect on you, impress you very much).

2. GET + adjective

When get is followed by an adjective, it usually means become, but most people will use GET…
I can’t climb those stairs so quickly these days – I must be getting (=becoming) old.
Turn that radiator on so you can get (= become) warm.
I'm getting (=becoming) tired of all this nonsense.

In this sense GET shows the change in state. He got really angry when his boss fired him means he started off not so angry and became steadily more so. 

3. GET + past participle

Get is often used for expressions where other European languages use reflexive verbs (возвратные глаголы: одеться, жениться...). We use this to talk about something we do to ourselves:

get dressed                       get married
get divorced                       get confused
get lost                                get engaged

4. GET + place expression

In this case GET means to reach, arrive at a place:

We got to (=arrived in) London around 6 p.m. 
What time will we get (=arrive) there?

5. GET + preposition

When GET is followed by a preposition it forms various phrasal verbs and usually implies some kind of change or movement. Here are some of the most common ones:

To get away = to escape  
The thief got away from the police.
To get by = to survive financially
Sally gets by on just $1,000 a month.
To get on with = to have a good relationship with
I really get on well with Janet. 
To get out = to leave
I got out of class at 3.30. 
To get over = to recover from an illness or bad occurrence
He got over his operation very quickly. 
To get through = to succeed in an examination, test etc.
That was a difficult test to get through, wasn't it?

6. Other usages

To get down to business = to begin working  
Tom arrived at 12 and immediately got down to business. 
To get together = to meet  
Let's get together this weekend.
GET + -ing usually has the meaning to start doing something:
You should get going otherwise you’ll miss your train. (= you should leave now).

I guess, you understand that lexical features of the verb “TO GET” are inexhaustible, and it’s not possible to cover them in one article. So let’s move to its grammatical features.
Grammatical usage of the verb “TO GET”

1. The verb GET is sometimes used instead of BE in forming the Passive Voice:

  • The thief got caught (= was caught) when he used a stolen credit card. 
  • I got invited (= was invited) to Terry’s wedding.

2. "get used to" indicates that you have adapted or become accustomed to something you may or may not like. At first you don't like something, then you "get used to it." It becomes a part of your life.

  • I got used (=привык) to this noise.
  • I find it hard to get used to the dark evenings in winter.

    If you want to say that you got used to some action use GERUND, not infinitive!!!!!!!!

    I got used to sleeping in this room.
    I never thought I would get used to wathcing this trash!

3. In spoken English we can use have got to (GOTTA) instead of To have to when talking about some external obligation.

  •  I gotta hurry up! = I have to hurry up!
  • Pamela is a waitress. She's got to work at weekends. (=she has to)
  • Have I got to do it right now? (=Do I have to?)
  • I haven't got to take my sister to school, my parents do it. (=I don’t have).

4. The structure GET + OBJECT + PAST PARTICIPLE can be used in 2 cases:

a) it can mean to finish doing something…

  • It has been so humid lately that it takes days to get the washing dried.
  • Get your room tidied and we’ll go to the park.

b) it can be used to talk about arranging for something to be done by somebody else.

  • I must get my hair cut – it’s looking terrible. (Somebody else will cut your hair, not you).
  • Peter has gone to the garage to ask about getting the car fixed. (Somebody else will probably fix his car).

5. The construction “to get somebody to do something” usually means "to convince somebody to do something" or "to trick someone into doing something."

  • Susie got her son to take the medicine even though it tasted terrible.
  • How can parents get their children to read more?
  • The government TV commercials are trying to get people to stop smoking.

This list doesn’t cover every use of get, but it’s enough to get you started. If you get stuck you could always get yourself a dictionary. Don’t get frustrated if you find it difficult to understand all the uses of get. It gets easier as you get used to the language. So, why don’t you get on with it? And why don’t you try right now? It won’t take you long to get the next quiz finished, will it? Waiting for your answers!

Did you get last week's lesson? Meaning =____________________
Can we _____________ please? (= begin working)
I really ___________ (=must) finish my work this afternoon.
Was it difficult to ___________ (=to recover from) his death?
How much do you need to ___________ (=survive financially) in New York?
I celebrated as soon as I ______________ (=finish successfully) the final examination.
Did you get some flour when you went to the supermarket? Meaning =___________________
Don't touch the stove until it gets cool. Meaning =________________
I can’t __________________________ (convince my husband to agree) on the colour of the carpet.


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