From Teflpedia

Get (/get/) is an English verb - the 5th commonest verb in English, after be, have, would and say.[1] As a full verb, phrasal verb and multi-word verb, it has many meanings and synonyms. It also forms part of several idioms.

Synonyms (single word)[edit]

  • arrive - get home, get to the station
  • become - get rich
  • capture - They got him in the end
  • fetch - Can you get the breadknife?
  • receive - Did you get my note?
  • understand - I don't get it

Phrasal verbs[edit]

  • get at - nag, insinuate, reach, intimidate[2]
  • get off - several meanings[3]
  • get on - be successful, make progress,
    • be getting on - get older
  • get over - recover
  • get through -

Multi-word verbs[edit]

  • get away with
  • get hold of (someone) - contact
  • get hold of (something) - acquire
  • get off with (BrE)
  • get on with - continue
  • get out of - avoid
  • get rid of


  • get (one's) act together
  • get high on (something)
  • get it in the neck
  • get it on with (AmE)
  • get (one's) own back (on someone)
  • get on with it
  • get with it

Get = change[edit]

Get is very often used with adjectives to refer to change, as well as the process leading to a result. With this use it is very similar in meaning to become (although there are some differences).[4]

  • The rich are getting richer
  • I'm getting tired of this

A useful way of explaining this use of get to students is to point out the difference between a state (be cold) and a process (get cold or get colder):

  • Your coffee's getting cold/it'll get cold vs your coffee's cold
  • This is interesting - this is getting more interesting - it gets even more interesting
  • it's very late vs it's getting late

Get used to[edit]

Get can usually be used as a synonym of become and grow with ... used to


  1. The OEC: Facts about the language: What is the commonest word? Oxford English Corpus. Retrieved 11th October 2012.
  2. "get at" Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 11th October 2012.
  3. "get off" Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 11th October 2012.
  4. Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage Oxford University Press 1980 ISBN 0-19-431197 x