In this edition of my column I would like to deal with one of the most popular English verbs – get. It is used mostly in spoken English as well as in a great number of popular idiomatic expressions. Let us consider some of the most common uses of the verb – get.

1) When get is followed by a direct object, it usually means ‚receive’, ‚obtain’, ‚fetch’, ‚take’.

Did you get my postcard?
Could you get a newspaper for me on your way home?
I’ll come and get you from the airport if you like.
Could I get (=go to the fridge and help myself) a glass of beer?
Which radio stations can you get in your car?
We don’t get much snow in this country?
I get the impression you don’t want me to stay here any longer?
She gets such pleasure from her garden!
Where did you get such a car from?

In some expressions get has a different meaning

Did you get (=understand) the joke? You didn’t even smile!
The mafia is going to get (get revenge on) you for that!

2) When get is followed by something different from a direct object, it usually refers to some kind of change of state.
(Things or people become different, move to new places, begin new activities etc)

When you get old you start forgetting things.
She is charming when you get to know her.
Let’s get going or we will miss the train.
I think you’re getting a bit jealous, aren’t you?
I’m getting tired, shall we go now?
How did you get to be (=become) a professional football player?
You are getting to be just like your mother.
I used to hate jogging but I’m getting to like it now.
Would you mind getting off my foot?
I got food poisoning at that Vietnamese bar yesterday.
Get out! You are no longer my son!
Get lost! (=go away – informal)

3) When particles or prepositions are used with get the change will usually refer to a movement:

I’ll get away (=leave) from work as soon as I can.
He got down to his knees to ask me to marry him.
Get off the bus at the next bus stop.
Get your feet off the sofa, they are dirty!
If we get off by seven, the roads will be clearer.
Get in.
Get over the wall.

4) When there is a direct object followed by an adjective, infinitive or preposition the meaning is cause to change, cause to become, etc.

I can’t get my hand warm.
Try to get the car going.
get your hair cut (=let somebody cut your hair).
get (=persuade) her to stay for supper if you can.
You’ll never get him to agree.
Why don’t you get your TV repaired (=have somebody done something)?
I got my car stolen (=somebody did it) last night.
Haven’t you got the photocopier working yet?

5) When get is followed by a past participle, the meaning is similar to that of a passive verb-form.

The picture got damaged (=was damaged) when we were moving.
How did the window get broken?
I don’t get paid enough for my job.
I got invited to lots of parties during my student days.
More and more elderly people are getting attacked in the streets these days.

Sometimes such a structure is used while talking about things we do to ourselves:

Get washed
Get dressed
Get lost
Get married/engaged/divorced

6) Get is also used in a great deal of idiomatic expressions.

Consider only some examples:

I can’t get over the death of my father. (recover from something e.g. an illness)
She doesn’t get on with her son. (to have a good relationship with somebody)
Get real! (=be reasonable)You will never get this job!
She’s been getting into yoga recently. (=started to like, became interested in it)
Shall we get together on Saturday and go to the cinema or something?
(=meet each other having arranged it before)
Don’t get me wrong (=to understand)
I got the message! (=to understand the intended meaning of something)
He keeps getting at me. (=to criticize)
To get away with sth (=to avoid punishment for sth)
I just have enough money to get by. (=to manage to pay for necessary things)
I just can’t get out of going to the meeting tonight. (=avoid)

In every good dictionary you will find more other examples of different uses of get (including idioms). In my humble opinion the best way to learn and then use new phrases with get is to note down an example sentence in a special notebook. Later you will need to have a look at YOUR sentences every now and then until you feel confident using phrases with get in your regular conversations. Try and see for yourself if it works!