Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Getting versatile


In a recent post about causative verbs I talked about these constructions:
get somebody to do something
get something done
The verb get is one of the most versatile little words in the English language. Master this one and you'll be speaking like a native! No lesson this time, just some exercises to remind you of get's uses and to test your knowledge. For detailed information use the dictionary links below.
  • Different meanings of get
  • Phrasal verbs with get
  • Causative verb get
  • Passive-like get
  • Expressions - get caught ...
  • Reflexive-like get
  • Some idioms with get

1. Introduction

I'd like to start with a quote from our old friend Swan:
Get is one of the commonest words in English, and is used in many different ways. It is sometimes avoided in a very formal style, but it is correct and natural in most kinds of speech and writing. The meaning of get depends on what kind of word comes after it. With a direct object, the basic meaning is 'come to have'; with other kinds of word, the basic meaning is 'come to be'.
Try the exercises first without looking at the answers, but if you get stuck you can find answers to all the exercises at the end of this post.

Ex 1 - Introductory reminder
Fill the gaps with words and expressions from the box. ?

engaged   ·   soaking wet   ·   down   ·   away   ·   real   ·   to know it
glass of water   ·   that tie   ·   in   ·   work   ·   at the next stop
dressed   ·   hair cut   ·   jokes   ·   many emails   ·   somebody
1.Hurry up and get . It's nearly time for school.
2.We got in the storm.
3.How long does it take you to get to in the morning?
4.They say he's really funny, but I never get his .
5.How do you get a day?
6.Could you get me a please, darling?
7.I'll get to look into it for you.
8.Everybody got coffee? So let's get to some serious work.
9.I need to get my before the interview.
10.It's a nice city once you get .
11.Have you heard? Sally and Pete have just got .
12.And what time did you get last night?
13.I really need to get for a few days.
14.So you think life's all going to be a bed of roses, do you? Get !
15.Please have my seat, I'm getting off .
16.Where did you get ? It's gross!

2. Different meanings of get

Ex 2 - Match these examples of get in context with their meanings.
Fill the gaps with words and expressions from the box. ?

1.He got a 'Dear John' letter yesterday.
2.Where can we get some flowers?
3.She got a fortune for her 'kiss and tell' story.
4.Shall I get you something to drink?
5.(putting down the phone) I couldn't get the manager.
6.We got totally lost.
7.I'll get my sister to give you a call.
8.He's getting his car serviced tomorrow.
9.It's time we got going.
10.We got home after midnight.
11.I'd better be getting home.
12.Where's Mum? She's in the kitchen getting lunch.
13.That's the door. Can someone get it, please? I'm busy.
14.We'll need to get a bus. It's too far to walk.
15.Sometimes I really don't get what she's on about.

3. Phrasal verbs with get

There are a lot of phrasal verbs with get. I started counting at the Cambridge Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs but soon gave up; life's too short. But they must list close to a hundred. Here are a couple of exercises with 24 of them.

Ex 3a - Phrasal verbs Part 1
Fill the gaps with suitable particles from the box. You may have to use some more than once. ?

back   to   by   across   on   down   up   into   behind   away
1.Do you think the bank robbers will get with it?
2.You're going to get trouble, if you're not careful.
3.What have you been getting to since I last saw you?
4.I sometimes have problems getting my ideas .
5.She got home very late last night.
6.They get like a house on fire.
7.Did you ever get that money you lent him?
8.How she gets on her salary I can't imagine.
9.We've got with the orders again. We need to catch up.
10.I know he's a real pain in the neck, but don't let him get you.
11.This weather is really getting me . It's so depressing.
12.I'm really getting writing grammar exercises. It's such fun.

Ex 3b - Phrasal verbs Part 2
Fill the gaps with suitable particles from the box. You may have to use some more than once. ?

off   together   at   out   back   off   on   round   through   over   at   into
1.Come on, it's not that bad. You'll get it.
2.We should all get sometime for a reunion.
3.Apparently Tim got with Samantha after the party.
4.I can't quite get it. My arm won't reach.
5.Do we have to go to their stupid party? Can't we get of it?
6.I must get to sorting out the garden. It's such a mess.
7.Sometimes I find it really hard to get to you.
8.Can't you get work early tomorrow, so we can go to the sales?
9.I'll have to lose some weight. I can't get any of my clothes.
10.He's so critical. He's always getting me for one thing or another.
11.Just you wait, I'll get you for that. Revenge is sweet they say.
12.How are you getting at the new job?

4. Causative get

Remember the constructions:
Active: get somebody to do something
Passive: get something done

Ex 4 - Complete the sentences using verbs from the box. You will have to turn half of them into 3rd form.

look   fit   prepare   install   manicure   build
repaint   check     teach   look after  
1.Could you get somebody to my account, please?
2.We're getting a new washing machine .
3.She got her nails yesterday.
4.She got somebody to her dog while she was on holiday.
5.They're getting a conservatory onto their house.
6.He's getting winter tyres to his car.
7.They're getting a builder to solar panels on their roof.
8.I'll get the chef to something special for the occasion.
9.We got an electrician to come and at the wiring.
10.She's getting a friend to her to drive. Bad idea!
11.He got his garden at by a landscape architect.
12.We're getting our car in psychedelic colours. Cool!

5. 'We got done!' - get used like a Passive verb

In some circumstances we can use get + a past participle (verb in 3rd form) instead of a normal Passive form with the verb be. This is usually used to refer to things that happen to you by chance (that's to say - not planned). It seems to me that it's not used much with perfect tenses.
  • My beautiful china vase got broken somehow.
  • This vase was made in Burton-on-Trent. (NOT got made)
  • I got invited to a party yesterday.
  • I have been invited to a party tonight. (NOT have got invited)

Ex 5 - Complete the sentences by using get in a suitable form, followed by a verb from the box in the 3rd form, as in the example (EG). Don't use any contractions.

give   catch (x2)   sack   make   break
charge   ask     tell   invite   arrest
EG.I got given a beautiful retirement present by my colleagues.
1.My house into while I was on holiday.
2.Her brother at the demonstration yesterday.
3.She never to parties these days.
4.My cousin with his hand in the till last week ...
5.... so not surprisingly he immediately.
6.I'm always if I want to join this or that club.
7.He off by the boss yesterday for being late again.
8.My father-in-law speeding last week. He's 75!
9.Unfortunately they redundant just last week.
10.We for a dish we never even ordered.
Incidentally there are quite a few expressions like those with caught. These expressions can be used with the verbs be - eg: he was caught at a bad time, or get:
get caught at a bad time
get caught in the actdoing something naughty, bad or illegal
get caught red-handeddoing something bad or illegal
get caught off guardwhen you are not expecting something
get caught on the hopwhen you are not ready for something
get caught out1. be tricked, 2. be discovered lying
get caught up in somethingget involved in something accidentally
get caught with your trousers downwhen something you'd rather stay private becomes public

6. get used like a reflexive verb

We don't really use reflexive verbs (eg he washes himself) very much in English, but we quite often use expressions with get which have a similar meaning.

Ex 6 - Complete the sentences by using get in a suitable form, followed by a verb from the box in the 3rd form, as in the example (EG). Don't use any contractions.

drink   drown   dry   marry   dress   lose
wash   soak   warm   engage   divorce
EG.He got drunk again last night.
1.The current in the river was so strong he nearly .
2.You can go and now, the bathroom's free.
3.They have finally . Peter popped the question yesterday.
4.Sally and Peter at St.David's Church tomorrow.
5.If you don't take a map you're bound to .
6.Go and , you can't wear your pyjamas all day.
7.You look as though you in the rain.
8.Here's a towel, go and before you catch your death of cold.
9.You look frozen. Come and up by the fire.
10.Well that marriage didn't last long! They are already.

7. Some idioms with get.

This is only a tiny selection, for more see the Cambridge Dictionary of Idioms

Ex 7 - Match the beginnings and endings of these sentences, which include idioms based on get. ?

1. It's time you got your act togethera)and did something with your life.
2. Well, who got out of bed on the wrong side today?b)or they'll walk all over you. It's dog eat dog out there.
3. Why don't you get it off your chestc)It wasn't that important.
4. He got cold feetd)I'm sure she fancies you really.
5. Mary's got off to a flying starte)and tell me all about it.
6. You've got to give as good as you getf)if you go on behaving like that.
7. I'll soon get the hang of this,g)seeing my family enjoying themselves.
8. She's just playing hard to get.h)just before the wedding.
9. You'll get your just desertsi)it looks pretty easy.
10. I really get a kick out ofj)in her new job.
11. Don't get your knickers in such a twist.k)You don't want me to come to your party.
12. I get the message!l)You've been in a bad mood all day.

Three colloquial expressions with get

  • Get real! - when you tell someone that they should try to understand the true facts of a situation instead of hoping for something impossible (Cambridge)
  • Get a life! - this means that someone is boring and they should find more exciting things to do (than sit in front of a computer screen, for example.)
  • Get out more! - this is very similar to Get a life!, but suggests that the boring activity is rather more habitual and regular.

Transatlantic misunderstandings - Can I get a coffee, please?

In a coffee bar or restaurant, if an American says Can I get a coffee, please? they mean Can you serve me a coffee, please?. Traditionally British people would say Can I have a coffee, please?, although the American version is being heard increasingly frequently in the UK.
Not much difference you might think, after all get and have are often interchangeable, as in have / get something done. But how wrong you would be. For some people in Britain, this usage is the perfect example of how 'proper' (British) English is being taken over by 'nasty' Americanisms. In a recent discussion in the Guardian about Americanisms this seemed to be one of people's main gripes.
For in British English, get here means 'go and fetch'. Several correspondents to the newspaper said that they got so annoyed when they heard someone use this expression, they felt like saying, 'Sure, the cups are over there, help yourself.' Can't say it bothers me personally, but it takes all sorts. So at least in Britain, better say 'Can I have a coffee, please?' You wouldn't want to be responsible for someone having a pedantic an apoplectic fit, would you?

Answers to the exercises - click on a button and then go back to the exercise.

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