It’s that time again when I broach the subject of English phrasal verbs – my clients’ favourite subject!
I have a most delightful client staying with me on a two-week intensive course. As part of her Business English course, we’ve been looking at different aspects of business communication skills. During one of our discussions, she admitted that she found English phrasal verbs a nightmare to remember and understand and gave me an example. And surprise, surprise it was phrasal verbs with the verb “get”!
It’s bad enough that the verb “get” has twelve different meanings when used on its own (see this post for those meanings), but when you then add prepositions to it what hope has anyone got?! I feel for you. I really do.
As I advised my client, the only way you’re going to understand what a particular phrasal verb means is to read it in context because when you have, for example, 7 different meanings to “get in”, that is your only option. Trust me.
Whilst looking for material for this blog, I found yet another informative infographic by Grammar.net and decided that it would suit my purpose perfectly. You will see from the infographic just how many different meanings there are to each of the 6 phrasal verbs it has picked.
You have the definitions but as I mentioned above, an example in context will help understanding. Let’s explore and unpick their meaning.
[Infographic provided by Grammar.net]
a. To remove something, including oneself.
“I need to get off at the next bus stop.”
“You will have to use bleach to get that stain off the shirt.”
b. It can be used to show avoidance of something negative.
“He was pulled over for speeding but was lucky to get off with a warning.”
“He is extremely lucky to still be in his job. He got off with just a verbal warning.”
c. Also refers to leaving work for the day.
“I get off work at 4 pm, so shall we meet at 5pm?
a. To enter
“Get in the car.”
“It’s raining; let’s get in the house.”
“I can’t get in. Is the key in the lock?”
b. To arrive
“When does Betty’s train get in tonight?”
“What time did you get in last night?” (In this situation, “get in” implies arriving home so you could also use “get home” but you wouldn’t say
“get in home”.)
c. To submit a form or application
“You need to get your tax return in by the end of September”
d. Bring inside
“Get your bike in before it snows.”
“Can you get the children in. It’s dinner time”.
e. To be admitted
“She applied for a place at RADA but didn’t get in“.
“After years of trying, Tom finally got in to golf club”.
f. To be elected
“The competition is tough between the candidates. You’ll need to be pretty ruthless if you want to get in”
g. To plant
“I’ll get those tomatoes in this weekend.”
“If you want spring flowers, you’ll need to get those bulbs in before the winter”
“Ann gets back at noon most days.”
“I think it’s time we get back to the hotel”.
“We will get back the money that was stolen.”
“If you’re not satisfied with the product, you can get your money back“.
“Don’t worry, I’ll get back at him for making a fool of me.”
(The idiomatic expression “get one’s own back” is also used in this context.)
“Don’t worry, I’ll get my own back at him for making a fool of me.”
“We couldn’t get around the fallen tree.”
b. Abstract avoidance
“He always finds ways to get around the rules.”
“Many people use bikes to get around the city.”
“We have to get over that fence and then cross the field.”
b. Recovery (health)
“How are you?”
“Not too bad. I’m just getting over the flu”.
“It took me a long time to get over my fear of heights”.
“Listen, you separated 10 years ago. You need to get over him”
“Get Away (With)”
a. Physical escape
“They managed to get away. I don’t know how they did it. There was police everywhere”
b. To escape consequences
“The Board of Directors shouldn’t get away with corruption. They should be made to be accountable”.
c. To go on holiday (especially after a period of stress)
“We like to get away for the weekend”.
“We take any opportunity we can to get away from the city at the weekend”.
“Get that spider away from me!”
This list is far from complete but hopefully it gives you a flavour of the creativity of the English Language! If you can think of other phrasal verbs with get, please share them here.
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Ciao for now.