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Get and got

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Index : To get - main verb Phrasal & prepositional get Passive auxiliary Got to


Forms of the verb get

Person
1st / 2nd sing 3rd sing Plural
Tense I / you he, she, etc we / you / they
Present. get gets get
Preterit got 
.Past participle got (or gotten, USA only)

1. The verb to get as a main verb

The verb to get is one of the most common verbs in the English language, and for this reason it has a lot of different meanings.

  • As a main verb, get plays the part of a "pro-verb" in the way that "it" is a "pronoun". Often it is combined with a particle (preposition or adverb) ; examples of this are treated below. In such cases, get is a full verb in its own right, most commonly with the meanings of acquire, become, cause or arrive....  but several other meanings are possible. (examples1 - 12 below)
  • In the present perfect, have got often often functions as a present tense, meaning  have or possess. (examples 13 and 14 below)
  • Get + object + past participle : as in get it mended - get is used in the meaning of cause (to happen) - (examples 15 - 17 below)
Examples of get as a main verb
  1. I'm getting a new car tomorrow.  (acquiring,  buying)
  2. He gets very cross when you ask him personal questions. (becomes)
  3. I'm getting someone to cut the grass. (finding, employing)
  4. We'll get to London at 7.30 pm.  (arrive)
  5. I'm going to get top marks in my exam. (achieve)
  6. I just don't get it ! (understand)
  7. If you don't take your pills, you may get typhoid.   (catch, acquire)
  8. It's almost six thirty; we really ought to get going now. (start)
  9. I got the last two loaves of bread in the shop. (bought, acquired)
  10. We're got rather cold waiting for you. (become)
  11. He's just got a new job  (found)
  12. Hello! We're early, but we've got here faster than expected. (reached, arrived)
  13. He's got two sisters and a brother  (has, possesses)
  14. He's got three Rolls Royces and a Bentley.  (has, possesses)
  15. I'm getting a new suit made specially for my wedding.
  16. He got his photo taken by a famous photographer.
  17. Have you got everything finished?

Has got or has gotten in American English?

American English does not use gotten in the present meaning of possess or has/have.

Gotten is  the normal past participle in American English only when the verb get is used in the present perfect, with the meaning of become or  reached or acquired
He's just got / gotten a new job  (found, acquired)
Hello! We're early, but we've got / gotten here faster than expected. (reached, arrived)
There's a storm coming; it's got / gotten very dark outside (become)
NO!  He's got / gotten two sisters and a brother  (has, possesses)
NO!  He's got / gotten three Rolls Royces and a Bentley.  (has, possesses)


2. Phrasal and prepositional verbs with get 

Get is the base verb used in a considerable number of phrasal and prepositional verbs in English. Unfortunately there is no way to master and understand them all without  learning them either deliberately or through practice.
Here are some of the more common examples:
Two-part verbs : Get away, get across, get by, get down, get in, get on, get round, get through, get out, get over, get up
We ought to get away by six at the latest.  (depart, leave)
I'm trying to get this across simply. (explain)
We ought to be able to get by with £100. (manage, succeed)
Can I get down, please..  (leave the table)
Get in quickly, it's going to rain very hard. (go in, enter)
Peter and Natalia get on very well together (like each other)
I can't get through this in a week.   (do, finish)
Get out !. (Leave, go away!)
He got over his pneumonia quite quickly. (recovered from)
I got round the problem by using my head. (avoided, got past)
I always get up late on Sundays. (get out of bed)
Three-part verbs : Get away with, get down to, get on with, get round to, the meanings should be clear from the examples.
He looks so innocent he could get away with murder  
Come on, it's already 8.30, it's time to get down to work.
Get on with the job, and stop looking out of the window.
I've got too much work this week, so I don't think I can get round to mending your computer too.

3.  Get as passive auxiliary

Get + past participle 

Get is often used, particularly in colloquial styles, as a passive auxiliary, in place of  be.
As with other forms of the passive, passive sentences with get are mostly intransitive, though get can also be used in ditransitive passives (passives with an object) (Examples 6  - 8 below)..
  1. Sorry I'm late, the train got (was)  delayed.
  2. My grandfather got (was) killed in the war.
  3. She's getting (being) driven to the ceremony in a big limousine.
  4. Survival training includes getting (being) dropped in the middle of the desert.
  5. We're getting picked up at 7.15 tomorrow morning.
  6. She got given a lovely present by her boyfriend
  7. Everyone  got clearly told what to do by the team leader.
  8. I got asked a very difficult question.

4.  Got to - modal auxiliary

For information on "got to" as a modal verb, see Modals of obligation.



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