466. Get this word into your life

Highlighting and clarifying vocabulary that you heard in episodes 464 and 465, with a focus on phrases and uses of the word get.

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The plan in this episode is to go through some of the language that you heard during the last two episodes.

If you listened to episodes 464 and 465 you will have heard me telling you to watch out for certain language that I would be explaining later.

Well, it is now ‘later’ – later has arrived. This is later. So let’s check out some of that language, shall we?

Check the page for this episode to see the words, phrases and some example sentences written for you to look at with your eyes and then remember with your brains (your brain – you’ve only got one, right?)

So, how much stuff did you notice? How many phrasal verbs, collocations and instances of ‘get’?

I’ve been through the episodes and have picked out some of that language that I thought was worth highlighting, and there was loads of it, tons of it, considerable amounts, too much for one episode. So in this one I’m just going to focus on the uses of get, which is one of the most common verbs in the English language. Let’s consider all the uses of ‘get’ which came up in the last two episodes.

GET the word ‘get’ into your life

Open a dictionary and look up this little word. You’ll see pages and pages of entries. Different meanings, grammatical functions, uses, phrasal verbs, fixed expressions and so on.

*actually read out loads of uses of get…*

You can’t underestimate the importance and usefulness of this little word. Native English speakers use get an awful lot. It’s one of the features of native level English.

Now, actually I should point out that it’s not just this one word on its own. That’s slightly misleading. Instead you realise that you’re not learning ‘get’ over and over again, you’re learning all the many different phrases in which it occurs. So, don’t focus on what ‘get’ really means – on its own it doesn’t mean that much, that’s why it’s a delexical verb. The meaning is to be found in the whole phrase – so that means you need to pay particular attention to how the word collocates with prepositions like ‘in’ or ‘on’ and auxiliary verbs like ‘have’ and also how these phrases affect the grammar of the sentence (e.g. if they’re followed by a gerund or an infinitive).

Sounds difficult? That’s because it is. In fact, I think ‘get’ is an example of exactly how English can be extremely tricky for learners of English.

Some aspects of English are easier than other aspects.

Some of the ‘easier’ things about our language are – there are not so many verb forms (e.g. with ‘go’ – to go, go, goes, going, went, gone, been) or verb endings (-ed, s or es) , no gender – so no need to change the gender of the adjective or pronoun and so on. Obviously I would say English was easy because it’s easy for me and I know that, admittedly, there are some tricky bits like some adjective and adverb morphology (with comparatives and superlatives – er, ier, est, iest), our irregular verbs and spelling are an irregular nightmare, we have lots of vocabulary with many synonyms, indirect language is hard to deal with, modal verbs are hard to get to grips with and there’s massive diversity in the way the language is spoken with many different accents around the world and so on, but compared to something like French or German there is less grammar to deal with, like the number of verb forms for example is quite limited.

I guess this is why it’s fairly common for people to get to a certain level of functional English (intermediate level) quite quickly but then get stuck at the intermediate plateau. Many people get to that level where they can basically say what they want to say and hold down a basic conversation but then that’s it, they stay there or they get stuck there because they hit a wall when it comes to the more complex stuff – the really nitty-gritty of native level English usage – the stuff that allows you to communicate shades of grey, subtlety, nuance and humour.

This is where English becomes particularly tough stuff. It’s the sheer diversity of little phrases which are created by combining certain ‘delexical verbs’ with prepositions, pronouns, gerunds and infinitives.

‘Delexical verbs’ are verbs which don’t carry much meaning on their own. Often they are little verbs. E.g. get, have, keep, put, take, make, give. They combine with other words in phrases. It’s the phrase as a whole that carries the specific meaning.

We end up with sentences like: “I’ve just got to get in on some of that action.” or “I just can’t get used to being out of the loop.” or “I’ve got to get round to getting you back for that thing that you did to me.”

“I’ve just got to get in on some of that action.”

to have got to do something = to have to do it, to need to do it

to get in on something = to become involved in something, take part in something from which you will benefit.

  1. Is the meaning obvious from the words? Not really. The only big word there is “action”. All the others are little ‘grammar words’. The whole thing is quite idiomatic.
  2. Is it easy to spot all the words being used when someone says it? Not really
  3. You might eventually understand it, but can you use and pronounce it quickly and confidently?

Jim: Do you want to get in on some of this action? *points to chips and salsa*

Pete: No thanks, I’m Good.

(from the Urban Dictionary – which isn’t always reliable by the way, there’s a lot of stupid, rude slang in there)

“I can’t get used to being out of the loop” = I’m in a really difficult position because I don’t know what’s going on and I haven’t known what’s going on for a while. This position is not getting easier for me.” e.g. you’ve got no internet connection and life just doesn’t seem normal.

“I’ve got to get round to getting you back for that thing that you did to me.”

to get round to doing something = to finally do something you should have done before

to get someone back for doing something = to get revenge on someone

This is where English gets really quite difficult. It’s a nightmare, I know.

A lot of these ‘bits of English’ with get are phrasal verbs, others are just fixed expressions. They are difficult, right? But what are you going to do? Ignore them? Pretend they don’t exist? Bad move. You’ll end up speaking an unnatural form of English. You’ll end up not really understanding what native speakers are talking about or getting at.

So, don’t underestimate the importance of little verbs like ‘get’ or ‘make’ or ‘put’. They’ve very common and this is the real English that is used all the time every day, but which is hard to learn because it’s probably quite different from your native language and because they’re not the ‘big heavy latin words’ that are more noticeable. These delexical words are like the ninjas of English. Yes, more ninjas on the podcast. I am obsessed with ninjas.

There are actually about 29 different uses or different phrases with ‘get’ in this episode. Maybe more.

That’s a lot, I know. Normally in lessons we don’t teach more than about 12 words at a time. There’s a good chance not every phrase will stick.

It can feel overwhelming. There are so many usages and phrases. It feels like you’ll never learn them all. But don’t worry about it all too much. It does take a while to pick up these difficult aspects of English but it’s not impossible. It helps if you stay positive.

Tips for dealing with all this tricky vocabulary

Here are some tips that I hope will help:

  1. Remember – it feels like there’s an infinite number of these little phrases. There isn’t. It’s a finite number. You can learn them all if you try. It is achievable. You can do it. Yes, you can.
  2. OK, so you might not learn them all, it’s quite difficult. But don’t worry, you don’t have to learn them all. Just learn some and the ones you do learn properly will stick with you forever as long as you keep noticing and using them. That’s better than just going “Oh to hell with it!” and learning nothing. Something is better than nothing, even if it is not everything. So, don’t worry if you don’t get all of these expressions. Just learn some now and get the others later.
  3. You could check a phrasal verbs dictionary like the Cambridge Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs to see the frequency of expressions, which might help you see which expressions are more common than others.
  4. When you’ve learned a phrase, or started learning some phrases. Listen out for them, watch out for them. You’ll find you start noticing them more and more. This will help you remember them a bit. The ones you notice a lot are the really useful ones worth remembering.
  5. Watch out for tricky little details such as whether the expression is followed by an -ing form or an infinitive form (with or without to) or if there are sneaky little prepositions, auxiliaries or pronouns. Don’t just learn the big solo verbs or words, train yourself to be on the lookout for vocabulary in phrases, or chunks. E.g. “to get used to doing something” or “be used to doing something” – both of those expressions with ‘used to’ have 4 parts, not just ‘used to’.
  6. Always study vocabulary with real examples, not just definitions. Beware of translating everything directly from or into your language, this might not work. English is a different language, remember.
  7. Try to use expressions with your own examples. Own the language. Personalise it. Use examples that mean something to you. This will help it stick in your mind, especially if your examples are visual or spatial – e.g. involving you in a particular space.
  8. Listen back to episodes 464 and 465 and focus on spotting the uses of ‘get’ either in phrasal verbs or other uses. You could play ‘vocab hunter’ if it makes you feel more excited.
  9. These phrases can be difficult to notice because of connected speech – the way certain sounds are cut, or even added in order to say the phrase quickly. All the words in the phrase run into each other and it ends up sounding like one word or even just a noise. E.g. “things might get a bit technical” (try it with and without the /t/ sounds)
  10. Check out my series called “A Phrasal Verb a Day”. It’s currently on hiatus, but there are about 130 phrasal verbs explained in individual episodes with their own examples. Each episode is just a few minutes long and there’s not much rambling. I just get straight to the point each time. It might help.

So, let’s carry on and look at the ways in which ‘get’ is used with some examples from episodes 464 and 465.

Uses of GET

Get on its own can mean a few things. See below for examples.

The list below is in order of frequency from episodes 464 and 465. The most frequent uses in those episodes are at the top of the list.

Get = receive (get a letter), obtain (get permission to do something), achieve (get a good result)

e.g. (to get an idea, to get the giggles, get the motivation to do something)

  • here’s a message I got not long ago
  • I do get quite a lot of messages like that
  • I get messages like this quite a lot
  • where I get the inspiration for episodes
  • getting the giggles
  • Zdenek got a teaching job off the back of his podcast
  • Get some inspiration to record something
  • get the right results
  • getting a sense of what works with learners of English
  • some things that I’m sure will be a hit seem to get a muted response
  • trying to get their approval
  • it’s great to get your feedback
  • you can’t get that lovely close sound with the laptop mic

Get = become (get + adjective)

e.g. get old, get hot, get dark, get famous, get bored

  • This might get a bit technical later on
  • which could get quite geeky
  • if you get too focused on controlling everything
  • I think she gets distracted at work
  • I have to get myself pumped up
  • That’s how a British person gets pumped up
  • Come on, let’s get pumped!
  • Let’s get pumped up!
  • things get a bit more fun in the second half of the episode
  • Ooh, suddenly this has got way more exciting, hasn’t it. Hasn’t it?

Get =  the auxiliary verb in passive forms (sometimes)
e.g. to get paid, to get downloaded, to get noticed, get caught, get arrested, get involved in something

  • if you get too focused on controlling everything you might stifle the conversation
  • I think she gets distracted at work
  • Let’s get pumped up!

Get = understand 

e.g. to get the message, get a joke, to get the idea

  • nobody gets the joke
  • you get the idea
  • Do you get what I’m trying to say?
  • I just don’t get it

have got = have (possessive)

  • I’ve got two Shure SM58s and a Shure SM7B
  • Send out a search team for Carlos. Sweep the area, we’ve got a missing LEPster. (actually he’s not missing, he got in touch)
  • Imagine you’re a presenter and you’ve got your own radio show

Watch out for:
*we don’t use it in the past (I had)
*auxiliary verbs in negatives and questions
(+) I have an idea / I have got an idea
(-) I don’t have an idea / I haven’t got an idea
(Q) Do you have any ideas? / Have you got any ideas?

Have got to = have to (obligation)

  • I’ve just got to get through this work
  • “I’ve got to concentrate!”

Watch out for:
*not in the past (I had to)
*negatives and questions
I have to do it / I have got to do it
I don’t have to do it / I haven’t got to do it
Do you have to do it? / Have you got to do it?

Get = reach/arrive at a place/stage

e.g. to get home, to get to work, to get to where you want to be

  • to get to where I need to be to start recording something about it

Get = manage to put something somewhere

e.g. to get it on the table, to get the ball in the hole

  • get it online, get those files online

 

Phrasal verbs and other expressions with get

To get through something = to finish something, to pass from the start to the finish

e.g. We need to get through the woods before the sun goes down.

Things got a little bit difficult in the middle of the marathon but I got through it.

  • try to get through the bits about how I make the podcast

To get your head around something = to understand it

  • I’ll explain the vocab later, which should help you to get your head around it all

To get round to doing something = to do something you have intended to do for a long time

  • I’m glad to have actually got round to doing it
  • I wonder if I’ll ever get round to making all those episodes

To get into something (literal) = to enter something (e.g. get into the car please sir) or change into a particular state (e.g. get into the right mood to do something)

  • I just try to get into the right frame of mind to record an episode

To get into something (idiomatic – ish) = become interested or involved in something

  • You might want to get into it too

To get back (to something) = to return to a place, or return to something you were doing before

e.g. “Get back! Get back! Get back to where you once belonged. Get back Jo Jo!”

  • Let’s get back to the topic of this episode

To get something across = to communicate something to someone, to make someone understand something

  • I have to come up with ideas and get them (my ideas) across to my audience
  • How to actually get the message across

To get on with someone = to have a good, friendly relationship with someone

  • Listen to people who know each other and get on well

To get rid of something = to throw something away, to discard it

  • Sometimes I have to get rid of what I recorded and start again

Other expressions and uses of ‘get’

To get going / to get started = to start

  • So let’s get going.
  • Let’s get started properly.

To get on with it = Start doing something that you should be doing.

e.g. Come on, stop wasting time! Get on with it!

  • Let’s get on with it.

To get down to business = to start talking about the subject which is to be discussed

  • Let’s get down to business.

To get something done = do it, finish it – ‘get’ is a causative verb here – either you do it or someone else does it

  • Control the podcast settings and get it published to iTunes
  • I need to get this finished by the end of the day
  • I need to get my teeth looked at

To get someone to do something = another causative verb – it means to make someone do something, to persuade someone to do something  – someone else does it (in USA they might say “have it done”

  • getting people to download it
  • How I get people to know about what I’m doing, how to get people to listen.

To get someone doing something = to put someone in a state, to make someone do something over and over

  • Here are just a few questions to get you thinking.

What’s the difference between ‘get someone to do something’ and ‘get someone doing something’?

The first one means persuade someone to do it, and it might only be once. (e.g. I got him to give me the money)

The second one means that you make someone do something over and over again, or put them in a state, not just do one single thing. (e.g. “now you’ve got me worrying” or “I really want to get you running every day”)

To get used to doing something = to become accustomed to doing something, to become familiar with something

  • I want you to get used to noticing different bits of language

To get the hang of doing something = like ‘get used to -ing’ but more informal, to learn how to do something

  • I want you to get the hang of noticing language

To get the most out of something = to achieve the most from something that is possible, to take advantage of something

  • I want you to be able to get the most out of these episodes
  • to get the most out of the people you’re listening to

Also: to make the most of something

To get in touch (with someone)  = to contact someone by phone, text, email etc

  • Get in touch

Also: keep in touch, stay in touch

To get it right/wrong = do something correctly or incorrectly

  • I’m sure I don’t get it right every time
  • I try to get it right

To get together = meet socially

  • Get people together
  • Get together with someone
  • If you get the right people together

Also – (n) a ‘get together’
Let’s have a get together at the weekend

to get something into your life

  • I’ve got to get you into my life
  • Get this word into your life

The Beatles – Got To Get you Into My Life (Lyrics) www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beatles/gottogetyouintomylife.html

Background music from www.Jukedeck.com