My love/hate relationship with the word ‘get’


When I teach, I have very much a love-hate relationship with the word ‘get’.

On the one hand, it is a very versatile word. For students who do not have an extensive active vocabulary, it often saves them from having to search for an elusive word or feel unsure about using the right one.

It is also short and understood by many, so is often preferable in advertising campaigns (Get Going, Get Started) in terms of a short sharp message or physical space constraints for layout.

On the other hand it is a lazy word, sounds very harsh and undiplomatic because of the hard consonants g and t, and can be repetitive if you use it all the time. So, particularly in writing, in the safe environment of the classroom, I always encourage people to use something else.


  • get an email/text/message can be receive an email/text/message
  • get the train can be catch the train
  • get the dry-cleaning can be collect the dry-cleaning 
  • get old can be grow old
  • get permission can be obtain permission



For the one below I would have used ‘Download’ unless space was an issue.

Get_nxpUSBlib_ icon_0

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

3 thoughts

  1. I totally agree with you!
    “Get” is part of the words that are banned in my lessons. At the beginning the students sigh and disagree with my rule of “forbidden words” but then it makes them try and learn/use more vocabulary and in the end l don’t even have to remind them about the “forbidden words rule”, they just automatically switch to synonyms.

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