It is easy to confuse have and get in English. Sometimes they mean almost the same thing. Often, however, they have different meanings. In this posting I talk about the many meanings of have and get. There will be many example sentences. The download at the end will give you additional practice using these two important words.
How do we use have?
The verb have has several meanings.
- Have shows possession.
2. Have is an auxiliary verb in the present or past perfect tenses.
3. In addition, we use have in the passive voice when we assign pr pay someone else to do something for us.
4. Finally, we use have in many expressions.
to have lunch (or any meal), to have fun, to have time, to have time, to have questions, to have a party, to have an argument (a discussion, a disagreement, a temper tantrum)
How do we use get?
The verb get has 10 meanings. In addition, we can also use get with certain prepositions and adverbs. We will look at each meaning.
1. Get–To acquire or gain something, to buy something, or to come into possession of something.
2. Get–to become
- My cousin got married (divorced) last week.
- She gets angry when there is too much traffic in the streets.
- Let’s get started with this new recipe.
3. Get–to receive something
4. Get–to arrive
5. Get–to bring
6. Get–to experience
7. Get–to make, to achieve something
8. Get–to fall ill
9. Get–to induce, to cause someone to act in a certain way
10. Get–payback, revenge
Get with certain prepositions and adverbs
Get to–to have an opportunity or to have permission to do something
Get at–to be able to reach something
- I dropped my earring down the drain. I can see the earring, and I’m trying to reach it, but I just can’t get at it.
Get down–to concentrate and study hard
Get up–an outfit or costume, often meant to be funny or a little insulting
- She thinks she’s sophisticated, but that get up she’s wearing just makes her look silly. This is informal language.
Comparing sentences using have and get
Sometimes we can use either have or get in the same sentence. Both will be correct, but the meanings will be different. Let us look at some examples.
- Rolando has a lot of money. This means that he possesses a lot of money.
- Andrea gets a lot of money from her investments. This means that she acquires a lot of money from her investments. She may or may not have had a lot of money before she started investing.
- We have enough time to go on vacation. This means that we possess enough time to take a vacation. We don;t have to do anything special. There is plenty of time.
- They got some time off, so now they can go an vacation. This means that they did not originally have time off, but they acquired it because their boss gave it to them.
- That book has 500 pages. This means that the book possesses or contains 500 pages.
- This book gets read often, even though it is in Spanish. This means that something causes the book to be read, even though it is written is Spanish. Probably many Spanish speakers know about it.
- She has a Siamese cat. This means that she possesses a cat. She may have had the cat for awhile.
- He just got a dog. This means that he just acquired or bought a dog.
Using the expression have got
Sometimes we combine have and get. When this happens, we have a new verb, have got. Have got is a modal of obligation or necessity. We use it to express emphasis.
Have got is also a modal of deduction or conclusion. We use it to reach a logical conclusion about something.
You now know that although have and get may have similar meanings, they can also be very different. Have is a verb that shows possession. We also use have as an auxiliary verb with perfect tenses or with the passive voice. Finally, we use have in many English expressions. Get has many meanings–to acquire, become, receive, arrive, bring, experience, make, fall ill, induce, or payback for a wrong. The expression get to means means to have an opportunity or permission. Get at means to reach something. Finally, get down means to study, and get up is an outfit or costume. The download will give you more practice using have and get.
Idioms of the day
- to have egg on one’s face–This means to be embarrassed. Marta did not practice for her piano recital. She made many mistakes, and at the end had egg on her face.
- to get to the bottom of something–This means to learn the real cause of a problem or bad situation. I don’t know who broke into my house, but I hope the police will get to the bottom of it.