The word "Get"

Concept: 3 out of 5
Execution: 1 out of 5
Yeah, but: It's me versus "about 9,700,000,000 results".

The Long Version: I can't remember his name, but I do remember the lesson: one of my high-school English teachers banned the words "get" and "got" from his classroom. His argument was that it's a lazy word choice, and that there is always a better option that's more specific and appropriate. He's absolutely right.

I do slip sometimes, and given the coloquial and idiomatic style that I prefer for this blog there are times when "get" is the appropriate choice. But those times are rare, and I have to admit that I was shocked at how often I've been seduced by the easy availability of this forbidden word. The good news is that it's simple to replace, and the results are invariably an improvement:

"Camera bags are one of those things that get outgrown as equipment changes…"
…that are outgrown…

"It's also relatively easy to find for sale online, where the option to get a powder cuts down on the shipping cost."
…where choosing/buying a powder…

"All you need to get it to work is four double-A batteries."
…to make it work…

"This lets me use any body and still get very similar colour results."
…use any body with very similar…

"That also makes it really easy to not get much sleep that night."
…to not sleep much…

As one of the most common English verbs, "get" has at least a dozen definitions in each dictionary that I've checked; the one that's installed on my computer burns through over 1600 words even without including the origin, derivatives, or usage notes. No verb can be that vague, and that ubiquitous, without being a gateway to lazy and imprecise communication. It's an extremely popular and versatile word, but it's still a good habit to get out of.

last updated 7 may 2011


  1. Guess what you just made me do...

  2. I have some suspicions, but I can't prove anything.

  3. Ah, I get it~
    Interesting post. 5 stars on the closing sentence.

  4. The colloquial "get" is very accepted in informal speech. In writing, we must always find an alternative!


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