Try looking up the translation of the word ‘get’ to your native language in the dictionary. In Portuguese, for instance, there are 17 different translations. In French, there are 15 words that could be translated to ‘get’. On the one hand, we can say that having a word that means so many different things is very handy. However, for anyone learning English as a second language, it can be very confusing to remember all the situations in which we can use the verb to get. In this blog post, we will explore the different meanings of ‘get’, plus we will introduce you to 15 collocations in English with ‘get’ that can be very useful in your daily life.  

What does ‘to get’ mean after all? 

Get means… well, many different things. ‘To get’ is a colloquial verb. It is widely used in spoken English, but not so much in formal or academic writing. Whenever you are writing something more formal, you would probably substitute ‘to get’ with one of its equivalents. Let’s take a look at the different meanings of the word ‘get’, shall we? 

1 – To travel or arrive 

We can use ‘get’ to substitute these verbs in spoken English. If you want to ask a friend how did she arrive at work on time, you can simply say: “Tina, how did you get here on time? I thought you would be late!”. Tina can then answer: “Oh, I got here by car. I’m glad I didn’t get the bus, otherwise I would be late”.  

collocations with get, different meanings of get, collocations in English
“We will get there at 5 p.m.”

 2 – To receive or obtain 

If somebody sends you an email, you can say: “I got your email this morning” instead of “I received your email this morning”. You can also use ‘get’ to say that you received a phone call (I got a call from mom yesterday) or that you received a package (I got the package two weeks ago).  A very common use of the verb ‘to get’ is to say that you received a haircut. You will often hear somebody say: “I need to get a haircut. My hair looks terrible!”. When you graduate from college, you can say something like “I got my degree from Harvard”. However, if you are writing an email to a potential employer, you will most likely say “I obtained my degree from Harvard University”.  

collocations with get, different meanings of get, collocations in English
“I need to get a haircut. My hair looks terrible!”

3 – To become 

You can use ‘get’ to talk about changes. For instance, you can say “It’s getting colder out there”. That means that the temperature is changing and the weather is becoming colder. You can also use ‘get’ to talk about changes in your health and well-being. It is very common to say “I think I’m getting sick” or “I’m getting tired. I should go home”. If it’s your birthday, you may say “Oh, I’m turning 30 today. I guess I’m getting old”. 

collocations with get, different meanings of get, collocations in English
“Oh, I’m turning 30 today. I guess I’m getting old”

4 – To buy, find or bring 

If you want to ask your sister what present she bought for your dad’s birthday, you can just say: “Sis, what did you get for dad’s birthday?”. She then can answer something along these lines: “Oh, I got him a brown pair of shoes”.  Another common use of ‘get’ is to ask someone to bring you something. “Anna, can you get me some food on your way home?” Anna can then answer, “Sure, would you like me to get you a burrito? That’s what I’m getting for myself”. 

collocations with get, different meanings of get, collocations in English
“Would you like me to get you a burrito?

5 – To hear or understand 

How often do you talk to Siri on your phone? I do it all the time. However, there are moments in which Siri doesn’t understand me. When that happens, she oftens says “Sorry, I didn’t quite get that”. You can actually use this sentence whenever you don’t hear or understand what a person is saying to you. 

collocations with get, different meanings of get, collocations in English

15 common collocations with ‘get’ you should know 

A collocation is a group of words that often go together. Some examples are “heavy rain” (you would not say “thick rain”) and “high temperature” (instead of “tall temperature”, for instance). Other common collocations are “take a break”, “pay attention”, “keep calm”, and “catch a cold”.  

My advice to really mastering collocations is to try not to translate them or try to understand the rules behind each one of them. I would advise you to start using them as often as you can so that they can naturally become a part of your vocabulary.  

Now we will explore 15 of the most common collocations with the verb “to get”.  

get a call Susan got a call from her boyfriend.  Receive 
get a chance I never got a chance to say goodbye to her. Find (time) 
get a job Richard got a job at Google. He’s very excited! Obtain 
get angry My mom gets angry when I don’t make my bed in the morning. Become 
get divorced I think we should get divorcedBecome 
get dressed/undressed I need to get dressed in 15 minutes or I’ll be late for the meeting.  Become 
get drunk Sue got drunk last night.  Become 
get fired I hope I don’t get fired. I really like this job. Become 
get into trouble Mike and Tom always get into trouble.  Find (a problem) 
get married When are you two getting marriedBecome 
get pregnant Mia wants to get pregnant next year. Become 
get ready Are you getting ready for school? Become 
get some sleep I need to get some sleep tonight. I had a long day! Receive 
get upset I got upset after reading his email. Become 
get worried I started to get worried after she didn’t return when she said she would. Become 

Let’s get to work: exercises with ‘get’ 

Now, let’s get to work and practice the different meanings of ‘get’ with some exercises. Are you ready? 

I know it may seem impossible to memorize all the different meanings of get, but I can guarantee you that once you start using it more often you will get used to it. When it comes to collocations with get, I advise you to study and make them a part of your vocabulary. We will have more posts about collocations in English in the future. Keep calm and study hard!