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Tuesday, 23 January 2018 12:51


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I'd like to dedicate this blog post to my outstanding student, Joy Li, in Shenzhen, China, who has visited us in Virginia before for a summer and recently asked this great question!


While teaching a basic Step 1 English class just now, we were practicing the short -e sound and the word "get." We discussed how the word "get" has MANY meanings and uses!


By itself, it means "to pick up, receive, or take possession of."

  • Please get some milk and eggs at the store.
  • Get a cup of water if you're thirsty.
  • We often get snow in January or February.
  • I hope we get some rain soon because mom's flowers are too dry.


It can also mean "to change or become."

  • It's supposed to get cold this weekend.
  • Lots of retired people move to Florida because it doesn't get very cold there.
  • Virginia has a pretty mild climate but it can get pretty hot in the summers. 


But when used with some other words, it has MANY more meanings!


get better: to recover from an illness or improve at something


get cracking (get crackin'): to start work quickly and energetically; to get moving quickly

  • "Exams start next week, so you'd better get crackin' with your reviews," Mr. Crawford challenged his students.
  • "The plane leaves in three hours so we'd better get crackin' and get to the airport soon; the plane won't wait for us," Dad called out.
  • "Get cracking" is also a slogan from American pistachio growers. Yum! 

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get done: to finish or complete a task

  • Mom says we need to get done cleaning our rooms before we can go out to see a movie.
  • "Class, if you get done with the test before the bell rings, you may sit in your seat and read quietly," Mrs. Miller told her students.


get even: to take revenge

  • When somebody hurts us, the normal response is to try to get even, but the Bible says not to seek revenge. 
  • Jerry wanted to get even after his (former) best friend stole his girlfriend.


get going: start or depart

  • We have a long trip tomorrow so we should get going around 7:00.
  • Sometimes it's hard to get going on a cold, dark morning!


get in: to board or enter a space

  • When people get in an elevator, they usually face the door and say nothing.
  • Get in the car and we'll go.


get in bed: go to bed

  • It's important for young children to get in bed early. 


get moving: to start moving or to take action

  • "It'll be dark in a few hours so we'd better get moving," Dad said as he saw the sun going down.
  • I need to mow the grass today but it's supposed to rain this afternoon, so I'd better get moving.


get on: to board or enter a space

  • Get on the bus and have a seat.
  • Soon after I get on a train, I usually fall asleep.


get organized: to effectively plan your time, goals, and materials

  • To be a successful student, you have to get organized.
  • Whenever you move to a new place, it takes a long time to get organized and put everything away.


get off: to deboard a form of transportation


get out: to deboard a car or leave another space

  • Remember to take your keys with you after you get out of the car. 
  • "Get out!" mom yelled when our dog came in the house with muddy feet. 


get over something or somebody: to recover from a hurt or illness

  • I had a terrible flu last winter; it took me a week to get over it.
  • It normally takes me several days to get over jet lag.
  • Barry was heartbroken when his girlfriend dumped him. "You'll get over her," his mom comforted him. "There's more than one fish in the sea."

get ready: to prepare for something

  • It takes mom about an hour to get ready every morning.
  • If you need to get ready to take your SAT or TOEFL, try our online classes!


get sick: fall ill, become unwell

  • If you don't want to get sick, it's wise to wash your hands often.
  • Mom always says we'll get sick if we go outside on a cold day with wet hair. 


get the picture: understand or realize something

  • "In this honors class, you'll need to do about one to two hours' of homework EACH night to keep up. I hope you get the picture," Mr. Brill warned.
  • In the 1958 movie, "South Pacific," this woman asked her friends, "Get the picture?"


get up: wake up and leave the bed; rise from sitting or lying down

  • What time do you usually get up on the weekends?
  • After a long break, sometimes it's hard to get up and get back to work. 


get up and go: pep; energy level

  • If you're lacking get up and go, maybe it's time to start an exercise program. 
  • Grandpa used to say, "My 'get up and go' got up and went!"


get well soon: a wish for someone to recover full health

  • After grandma was sick, lots of her friends sent her Get Well Soon cards that lifted her spirits. 


get your act together: to get organized and set correct priorities

  • Billy is really smart, but he just can't get his act together. He's 30, can't hold a job, and he's still living in his mother's basement. 


Get the picture? There are LOTS of ways we use "get" in English, but I don't have time to get to all of them.

This very funny "Mom Song" claims to take all the things a mom (or maybe dad) will tell a child in 24 hours, and reduce it to only three minutes. If you listen at 1:53, you will hear about TEN idioms that start with "Get." Take a listen! 

(For more about Moms and Mother's Day, check out this blog post.) 

There's "Get a dose of your own medicine," "Get cracking," "Get the lead out," and lots more! To get a better idea of more English idioms, check out our blog post.  But time is getting away from me and I need to get some other things done now, so I need to get this post wrapped up and get it online. 


Do YOU need more help to get better at English? Get in touch with Scott today! 


Read 23679 times Last modified on Friday, 18 May 2018 15:24
Scott Dreyer

A licensed teacher in the US state of Virginia since 1987, Scott Dreyer has been helping Chinese speakers improve their English since 1989. Dreyer lived in Taiwan from 1989-1999 where he learned Mandarin, met his wife, started his family, and realized he loved working with Chinese students. He became an award-winning author and started teaching ESL online in 2008. Dreyer and his wife and their four adult children make their home in the beautiful Roanoke Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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