Archive for Tag: the meaning of “get”

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Do You Get It?

Kristine Fielding teaches ESOL at Lone Star College in Houston, Texas.

The word “get” is hard to get.

It does not have a set definition. It frequently embraces new meanings as technology requires, expanding and enveloping to absorb new semantical shapes, much like a boneless sea creature manipulating its form to acquire a new source of food.

Its ubiquitous use proves how flexible the word is. Not only does the word “get” have multiple meanings by itself, it is also used in a variety of phrasal verbs. An ESL/EFL student trying to communicate with native speakers in authentic settings can become confused when native speakers use “get” instead of solid verbs, or those with firm meanings.

As usual, this post is prompted by a recent discussion with a student. The student specifically requested help on how to use the word “get.” Since she was in a low level class, shape-shifter words like “get” were not covered. I told her I would compile some information for her, and we would discuss the material after class.

I realized “get” has at least three possible definitions, not counting phrasal verbs (which I was not going to address since phrasal verbs are like the fantastical Kraken—a beast of its own nature). This is what I came up with. *Disclaimer: I am not saying these are the only definitions, just the ones I gave my student.

Get: Acquire. Perhaps one of its most elementary usage since we often ask “Did you get my email?” I

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