The Monster Verb That Can Do Everything: "To Get" Meanings You Should Know

Grover Laughton8 min
Created: Feb 29, 2024Last updated: Feb 29, 2024
Cómo utilizar "To Get" en inglés

Let's discuss to get, one of the most versatile verbs that can mimic others and, therefore, change its meaning. If you want to understand native English speakers and speak naturally, you definitely need to learn how it's used in everyday life. Stay with us, and we'll tell you its secrets and most important meanings. So, let’s get started!

Understanding the Versatility of "Get" in English

This verb, without exaggeration, is one of the most popular and widely used. Its broad range of functions can vary depending on the context, making it a key speech element. Americans love to use it, and it's translated differently each time. At least, that's how it seems at first. But gradually, you'll understand that it changes its meaning depending on the words that follow. That's why we always look at the neighboring word.

Get is one of the least favorite verbs for students because it has more than 50 meanings, including those appearing in stable expressions. The Cambridge Dictionary website cites the word obtain (recibir) as a variant of the main definition. Moreover, it can be translated as to obtain, to arrive, earnings, etc. Isn't it great that you can remember just one verb and, in the end, know dozens of phrases?

The Many Faces of "Get": Usage and Context

Thanks to its multifunctionality, the verb greatly aids in conversation, simplifying sentence construction. How to remember all this? The task becomes easier if we group expressions by meaning:

  • Present Simple of get. In this case, it can be translated as to buy, to acquire, to receive, etc., and replaced with these words. Did you get my email? (¿Recibiste mi email?); I got a new car (Compré un auto nuevo).
  • Get in Past Participle. When we see the past participle after the verb, it's assumed that the object the sentence refers to is subject to some kind of action. If you want to highlight the duration of the action, the -ing ending is replaced by the verb "be getting." I got hired (Me contrataron); I am getting hired (Me contratan).
  • Past Participle of get. When you want to say that someone performed an action for you, you can use it. I got my hair colored (Me tiñe el pelo, es decir, en el salón); Sam needs to get the floor redone – Sam necesita rehacer el piso (es decir, Sam tiene que contratar a alguien que lo haga por él). 
  • Get + a location. Moving from one place to another. We got home before it started raining (Llegamos a casa antes de que empezara a llover); I got to the police station (Vine a la comisaría).
  • Going from state A to state B. I’m getting tired (Me estoy cansando); I got angry (Me enfadé).
  • Completion of an action or task. He got the job finished on time (Terminó el trabajo a tiempo).

These examples show only some definitions of using get in different contexts. It's essential to consider conjugation with other words to understand its meaning in a particular case. Separately, you must consider stable expressions and compound verbs.

Mastering "Get": A Guide to Conjugation and Phrasal Verbs

Our hero refers to Irregular Verbs. Therefore, get in the simple past does not follow the basic principles and is used in a special way: get – got – got. Even with a change in forms, it also shows variability. That's why pronunciation and spelling are different in British (UK) and American (US) English. Comparative analysis of get in British vs. American English:

PresentPastPast Participle
get [ɡet]


[ˈɡɒt]  UK

[ɡɑːt]  US

got [ˈɡɒt] – UK 
gotten [ˈɡɑːtən] – US

According to the word gotten, it can define the speaker as American or Canadian, although it's used with many nuances. Therefore, it's better to use the British option to not get completely confused. For get in present continuous or set phrases, getting is used.

Moreover, the verb forms stable expressions with certain words. Below is a small list of phrasal verbs involving get that can be useful in daily communication:

  • get away with – salir;
  • get off – bajar de tren, avión, etc.;
  • get through – soportar, manejar;
  • get up – levantarse (por la mañana de la cama);
  • get better – ser mejor;
  • get crazy  volverse loco;
  • get divorced – divorciarse;
  • get lost  perderse;
  • get mad/angry – enfadar;
  • get married – casarse;
  • get safer – ser más seguro;
  • get worse – empeorar.

It's absolutely useless to learn them all. You need to master them only in context and by interesting examples. Is that what you want? Sign up for a free trial class and learn English easily, including get in future and simple past.


"Get" in Action: Practical Examples and Applications

Here we list the most commonly used phrasal verbs. You can find others, as well as additional meanings. The list will expand as your level increases. But don't chase quantity. It's impossible to list all sentence examples using get; there are too many, including get in past participle. You need to know those used among people in your daily life:

  • Get back – to call back. I will get back to you (Te llamaré luego).
  • Get by – to cope, survive, manage, live. How can he get by on so little money? (¿Cómo sobrevive con tan poco dinero?). 
  • Get somebody down – to depress, discourage. Rainy days get me down (Los días lluviosos me deprimen).
  • Get on (also get along) – to get along well, have a good relationship. I really get on well with Janet (Nos llevamos muy bien con Janet).
  • Get over – to overcome, recover.I am finally getting over the COVID (Por fin me estoy recuperando de covid).

To learn new expressions, be sure to use a good dictionary like Collins DictionaryOxford Dictionary, or Merriam Webster (for American English) to see how phrases are used in context and get familiar with examples. The more examples, the better.

The Evolution of "Get": From Old English to Modern Use

Of course, the verb gradually took on more and more meanings. For example, to get drunk — "emborracharse" — came into use around 1660, and to get better in the sense of "to recover health" — from 1776.

The etymology of get in modern language is deep in Middle English. This word is a descendant of the Germanic language family, and its root refers to the Old English word "gietan," meaning "to catch" or "to grasp."

In Old English, "gietan" was used to express various actions, such as to receive, as well as movements or actions of a violent nature. Over time, as a result of language evolution, this word has received a wide range of meanings and uses that we see in modern English.

Navigating the Complexities of "Get" in Everyday Conversation

If you want to facilitate the process of memorizing new words and phrases, download our super app. Promova has many interesting things for you, including 1x1, individual, and group classes. See how you can enrich your speech with such idiomatic expressions:

  • I got my teeth into eco-activism and spend a lot of time on this now (Estoy fascinado por el eco activismo y le dedico mucho tiempo ahora). 
  • Hey, get a life, you better find a girlfriend! (Oye, no hagas tonterías, ¡mejor consigue una novia!).
  • Eric is getting my goat when he leaves dirty dishes in the kitchen (Eric me vuelve loco cuando deja los platos sucios en la cocina).

If get is combined with nouns or pronouns, it acquires its perhaps most common meaning: to receive. A list of its synonyms includes obtain (obtener), receive (recibir), achieve (lograr), buy (comprar), purchase (adquirir). All these words can be replaced only with get. If we combine this miraculous verb with adjectives, this combination will indicate a change of state or location. In this case, the appropriate synonym would be become (convertirse):

  • After a year of lessons Charley got invincible in chess (Después de un año de clases, Charley se volvió invencible en el ajedrez).
  • Jane immediately got angry after these words (Jane inmediatamente se enojó después de estas palabras).
  • We are getting closer to the aim (Nos estamos acercando a la meta).

Also, the verb get can be used in such slang expressions:

  • Get a load of something – to understand something. For example: Are you getting load of what he saying? (¿Entiendes lo que dice?).
  • Get a life – to do something useful, not to bother. For example: Just get a life and do not come here (Ve a hacer tu trabajo en vez de venir aquí).

At first glance, it may seem that no one can learn so many meanings and different use cases of get. There's a lot of information, so you have to master it in small portions, in our free conversation club.

Promova has a modern interactive platform with professional tutors, always ready to give advice to language learners. Here you'll find complete conjugation tables (British and American English). If you're ready to start, register and get your first 1x1 class for free. And finally, remember a cool phrase: I got it (I understand).


The verb get is your helper; it will be useful in many life situations and replace a lot of complex and academic words. If you know this verb well, you can use it as your plan B in any linguistic situation. So get on with it and keep studying English!


What is the past tense of get?

In the past tense, get can have two forms: got and gotten. The first option is commonly used in British English and some American variants, while the latter is characteristic of American English. Therefore, sentence construction will depend on your usual communication. Otherwise, there are no special nuances, but in the perfect tense, it is necessary to pay attention to the auxiliary verb have.

How many meanings does the verb have?

The verb refers to an informal style. It can be used in different contexts to express state, movement, action, and other meanings. The main ones are: to obtain, to take out, to bring, to receive, to arrive, to become, to have, to catch, to acquire, to buy, to capture, to captivate, to understand, to observe, to trap. By learning to replace certain basic words with constructions with get, your speech will be more perfect.

Are Get up and Stand up synonyms?

They have a similar meaning in which they are synonyms: to stand up (i.e., to put the body in an upright position). But there are other aspects in which they differ. Constructions with get can be a salvation for people whose vocabulary is still small. With its own translation and specific meaning, the verb, even in the simplest phrases, acquires a special meaning, understandable only in context.

How to understand all the aspects?

To avoid confusion, all values can be classified according to the type of part of speech, along with which the word get creates a stable phrase. Knowing them helps to understand well what is said in the sentence. With compound verbs, the situation can be much more difficult, so try to learn the most used combinations and practice them daily.