GET and TAKE – What’s the difference?
|get verb – receive/obtain – I got a call from Gary this morning. |
(I received a call from Gary this morning. This is passive, I just received the call.)
|take verb – accept/receive – I took the call in my office. |
(I accepted/received the call in my office. This is more active, I decided where to accept the call.)
|get verb – receive/obtain – I’ll get the money somehow. |
(I am determined to obtain the money.)
|take verb – accept/receive – If he takes my advice I think he will be okay.|
(If he accepts/receives my advice he won’t have any problems.)
Some of my English students in Japan have had trouble with the verbs GET and TAKE. I get questions like:
Which sentence is correct? OR Which sentence is more natural?
I got a call from Gary this morning.
I took a call from Gary this morning.
It’s a good question, and I had to think about it the first time I was asked! This blog post is a result of lots of research and it’s full of many helpful examples to help you understand these words.
Here is a basic difference:
GET is used when another person (or thing) GIVES you something. This is more passive. Someone IS GIVEN something.
I got a call from Gary this morning. = Gary gave me a call this morning. This is passive, I just received the call. (GET usually requires a second person or thing to GIVE you something.)
TAKE doesn’t always need another person (or thing). Something can be TAKEN by a single person in the sentence.
The sentence I took a call from Gary this morning. is not natural. We can improve it.
I took the call in my office. This sentence is better (more natural) and it means – I accepted/received the call in my office. This is more active, I decided where to accept the call. (I am also the only person in this sentence.)
Let’s look at another example:
There is a new Italian restaurant near my office. I got a flyer this morning. The restaurant looks good.
– This sentence is passive, we don’t know HOW I received the flyer, maybe someone gave it to me, or maybe it came in the mail. We only know that I have it, I received it.
I GOT a flyer.
There is a new Italian restaurant near my office. I took a flyer this morning from the front door. The restaurant looks good.
– This sentence has an active feeling, we know HOW I received the flyer and we know what I DID to receive it. I took it from the front door. The flyers were offered and I accepted one.
I TOOK a flyer.
Take can sometimes have a negative feeling
You can TAKE something that is offered to you, like a flyer, some food, etc. This is to accept something. BUT…
If you remove something that is NOT offered to you we still use the verb TAKE, but the meaning is negative.
This can mean stealing:
“Someone took my bicycle from the park.” (Someone stole my bike.)
Or it can be a mistake:
“I left the house in a rush this morning and I took my wife’s keys by accident.” (I grabbed my wife’s keys by mistake.)
“I got $20 from my Dad for helping him clean the garage.” My Dad gave me the money.
“I took $20 from my Dad’s wallet.” I stole $20 from my Dad. I removed $20 without permission.
get verb – receive/obtain – I’ll get the money somehow.
(I am determined to obtain the money.)
take verb – accept/receive – If he takes my advice I think he will be okay.
(If he accepts/receives my advice he won’t have any problems.)
Both of the sentences from the second version are about receiving something, receiving money, and receiving advice, but the difference is in the definitions – obtain and accept.
Obtain the money – I will make an effort to get the money. I must do something to receive the money. – I wouldn’t say: “I will make an effort to
take the money.” This use of take is more like steal. (receive [remove] something without permission) It doesn’t really fit our sentence.
Accept the advice – He should willingly take my advice. The advice is being offered to him and he should accept it. We wouldn’t say “If he
gets my advice I think he will be okay.” This use of get is more like understand. It doesn’t really fit our sentence.
*NOTE – Obtain means make an effort, but GET is still passive.
I work hard at my job, I make an effort, and then the company GIVES me a paycheck. (Passive)
I don’t TAKE the paycheck.
I study hard at school for many years (effort) and then the school GIVES me a diploma. (Passive)
I don’t TAKE the diploma.
These words can be confusing, but this post will help you easily understand these verbs. Keep reading for clear definitions with lots of natural examples.
Get vs Take Definitions (to receive)
One of my favorite online dictionaries is Oxford Learner’s Dictionary. I use this site all the time when I work with my English students here in Japan.
Oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com lists 27 meanings for GET and 43 for TAKE. That’s a lot of ways to use these words! Don’t worry, some meanings are not so common, and some are very similar in meaning. I’ll introduce a few of the common meanings for you later in this post with examples. Examples will help you understand the meanings easily.
The best way to acquire a language is to learn complete sentences. The following guide will show you how these verbs are used with natural examples. This will make them easy to understand. Listening to complete sentences is also really great!
To begin I want to teach you 2 similar meanings that can be confusing.
Be sure to read the conclusion where there is a special message for you with more audio.
get verb – receive/obtain [Definitions and examples from HERE]
to receive something “I got a call from Gary this morning.”
Infinitive – TO GET
It’s the best way to get a sense of what’s actually going on here. (To get a sense of something is to find out or receive an understanding of a situation.)
Present simple – GET
I get the impression that he is bored with his job. (I get the impression means that I think, or feel that he is bored with his job.)
Where did you get the idea from? (How did you receive the idea?)
What (= What presents) did you get for your birthday? (What presents did you receive for your birthday?)
Present simple Third-person singular – GETS
He gets (= earns) about $40 000 a year. (He receives about $40 000 dollars a year from his job.)
This room gets very little sunshine. (The room doesn’t receive much sunshine.)
Past simple – GOT
I got a call from Gary this morning. (I received a call from Gary this morning.)
I got a shock when I saw the bill. (I received a shock when I saw the bill.)
Past participle – GOTTEN
I haven’t gotten a chance to call him back yet. (To get a chance means to have time.)
[Haven’t gotten is the perfect tense. HAVE + the past participle. Learn more about perfect tense grammar HERE]
Continuous tense – GETTING
It seems like Ted is getting special treatment from the boss. (Ted may be receiving special treatment at work.)
to obtain something
[Obtain and get are synonyms – To obtain something is to get something, especially by making an effort]
Infinitive – TO GET
Try to get some sleep. (Try to obtain some sleep.)
She opened the door wider to get a better look. (She opened the door to obtain a better view.)
I think someone’s trying to get your attention. (Someone wants to obtain or capture your attention so you will notice them.)
Present simple – GET
I’ll get the money somehow. (I am determined to obtain the money.)
Present simple Third-person singular – GETS
You can trust Cathy, she always gets results. (Cathy is successful, she obtains success.)
Past simple – GOT
He just got a new job. (He just obtained a new job.)
Past participle – GOTTEN
I’ve gotten some helpful information from their website. (I have obtained good information from their website.)
These uses of GET, receive and obtain, are both transitive verbs.
A transitive verb is used with a direct object. He gets about $40 000 a year. – about $40 000 is the direct object of the verb GETS.
He just got a new job. – a new job is the direct object of the verb GOT.
[Learn more about Transitive verbs HERE]
These meanings of GET are not used in the passive voice.
TO BE gotten Get already has a passive feeling.
[Learn more about the Passive voice HERE]
take verb – accept/receive [Definitions and examples from HERE]
to accept or receive something “Gary called me at work. I took the call in my office for privacy.”
Infinitive – TO TAKE
No one wants to take responsibility for this project. (Nobody wants to accept responsibility for this project.)
Present simple – TAKE
If they offer me the job, I’ll take it. (I will accept the job if they want to give it to me.)
I’ll take the call in my office. (I will accept the call in my office.)
Present simple Third-person singular – TAKES
If he takes my advice he will be okay I think. (If he accepts my advice he won’t have any problems.)
Past simple – TOOK
The store took (= sold goods worth) $100 000 last week. (The store accepted $100 000 from customers in exchange for goods.)
Past participle – TAKEN
I have taken full responsibility for what happened today. It was my fault. (I have accepted responsibility for my actions.)
Continuous tense – TAKING
She was accused of taking bribes. (She was accused of accepting bribes.)
How to use GET and TAKE
More common uses
As I said above there are many different ways to use these verbs. Here are a few more common uses.
to buy something
Where did you get that jacket? (Where did you buy that jacket?)
I got tickets for the concert. (I bought tickets for the concert.)
I will stop by the store after work and get some groceries. (I will stop by the store and buy some groceries.)
We can get something for somebody OR for a price.
Did you get a present for your mother? (Did you buy a present to give to your mother?)
You can get yourself the basic model for $100. (You can buy the basic model. The price is $100.)
to go to a place and bring somebody/something back
I spilled my coffee. Quick, get a cloth! (Go [somewhere] and bring a cloth back. [to here])
Somebody get a doctor! (Someone please go [somewhere] and bring a doctor back. [to here])
She went to get help. (She went [somewhere] find help and bring it back.)
I have to go and get my mother from the airport. (I must go to the airport to collect my mom and bring her back home.)
Could you get me a drink, please? (Please bring a drink back for me.)
to start to develop an illness; to suffer from pain, etc.
I got this cold off you! (I developed this cold from you.)
Mike gets a headache if he doesn’t have a cup of coffee every day. (Mike suffers a headache if he doesn’t have enough coffee.)
I think I’m getting a cold. (I think a cold is developing in my body. I have a runny nose and a sore throat.)
to understand somebody/something
She didn’t get the joke. (She didn’t understand the joke.)
I don’t get it—why would she do a thing like that? (I don’t understand why she would do that.)
More variations on the accept/receive definition
to act in response to an opportunity
When the bus stopped for fuel, we took the opportunity to get something to eat. (While the bus stopped we received a chance to buy and eat some food.)
He isn’t afraid to take risks. (He is willing to accept risks, he is not scared of taking chances.)
Take the initiative and fill your life with exciting experiences. (Accept the power to take action on your own. Don’t wait to be told to do something or wait for others to do it first.)
to accept somebody as a customer, patient, etc.
The school doesn’t take boys. (This is a girl’s school, they don’t accept male students.)
The dentist can’t take any new patients. (The dentist is too busy to accept new patients in his clinic.)
to experience or be affected by something
Can the ropes take the strain? (Can the ropes accept the strain and not break?)
The team took a terrible beating. (The team lost the game and received a bad beating. For example they lost by many points.)
to be able to bear something (endure a difficult situation)
She can’t take criticism. (She is not able to endure or accept people’s critical opinions.)
I don’t think I can take much more of this heat. (I can’t bear this heat. It’s too hot for me to handle!)
The new teacher wasn’t going to take any nonsense. (The new teacher was not going to accept any bad behavior from the class.)
to react to something/somebody in a particular way
take something/somebody + adv./prep.
These threats are not to be taken lightly. (We need to accept that these threats are serious.)
I wish you’d take me seriously. (I wish you would react to me in a serious way.)
Other uses for the verb TAKE
to carry or move something from one place to another
Remember to take your coat when you leave. (Don’t forget to carry your coat from here to where you are going.)
Can you take my suit to the dry-cleaners? (Can you carry my suit to the dry-cleaners?)
You need to take your laptop to the repair shop. (You must carry your computer to the shop.)
to go with somebody from one place to another, especially to guide or lead them
It’s too far to walk—I’ll take you by car. (I will drive you to where you are going.)
A boy took us to our room. (A boy guided us to our room.)
I’m taking the kids swimming later. (I will go with the kids to the pool later.)
The boys were taken to see their grandparents most weekends. (The boys went to see their grandparents almost every weekend. Someone took them there. [were taken is the passive voice])
to need or require a particular amount of time
The journey to the airport takes about half an hour.
It takes about half an hour to get to the airport. (The trip to the airport requires half an hour.)
That cut is taking a long time to heal. (The cut is requiring a large amount of time to heal.)
Please fill out this form, it should only take you five minutes. (You should only need five minutes to complete this form.)
It’ll take time (= take a long time) for her to recover from the illness. (She will not be back to normal for a long time due to this illness.)
to put your hands or arms around somebody/something and hold them/it; to reach for somebody/something and hold them/it
I passed him the rope and he took it. (He held the rope after I passed it to him.)
Free newspapers: please take one. (Please grab a newspaper and bring it with you. It’s yours now.)
Can you take (= hold) the baby for a moment? (Hold the baby in your arms for a moment.)
He took her hand/took her by the hand. (= held her hand, for example to lead her somewhere)
to remove something without permission or by mistake
Someone has taken my scarf. (Someone has removed my scarf without permission.)
Did the burglars take anything valuable? (Did the burglars remove anything valuable from your house?)
Phrasal Verbs with GET and TAKE
These GET phrasal verbs come from my post Learn and use 50 Common Phrasal Verbs (+free PDF). You can see all 50 phrasal verbs including even more Phrasal Verbs with GET by clicking here: 50 Common Phrasal Verbs
Phrasal verbs with GET
~ To be communicated or understood; to succeed in communicating something
“I want to improve my English. I really hope to get my ideas across to my coworkers in Canada.” = I want to communicate and be understood by the staff at my company’s Canadian office.
get along with
~ To have a friendly relationship with someone
“Jordan is close with most of his family, but he doesn’t get along with his brother.” = they don’t have a close relationship, their relationship is not good.
~ To move from place to place or from person to person
“My great uncle can’t walk anymore, but he gets around with an electric scooter.” = My great uncle is able to move from place to place with the help of an electric scooter.
“News of Mike’s divorce soon got around the office.” = Many people talked about Mike’s divorce at the office. The information went from person to person quickly.
get around to
~ To find the time to do something
“I was so busy with my private students that I didn’t write a blog post last week. I wanted to, but I never got around to it.”
①~ To have a vacation
“I hope to get away for a couple of days next month. Work has been busy.” = I want to take a short vacation (a couple of days) next month.
get away (from…)
②~ To succeed in leaving a place
“I won’t be able to get away from the office before 7:30.” = I won’t be able to leave the office before 7:30.
get back at somebody (informal)
~ To do something bad to someone who has done something bad to you; to get revenge on someone
“My brother ate all my Halloween candy! I got back at him by hiding his school bag in the basement. Now he can’t find it.”
get back to somebody
~ To answer a question or a message later, to reply later
A: “Is Patrick coming to the party?”
B: “I’m not sure. I’ll find out and get back to you.” = I’ll get the information and tell you later.
“I sent Richard 4 emails already, I hope he gets back to me soon.” = I hope that Richard answers my emails soon.
get something over with
~ To complete something unpleasant but necessary
“I have to see the dentist to fix a cavity. I’m not looking forward to it! I’ll be glad to get it over with!” = I will be happy when my cavity is fixed and I don’t have to visit the dentist anymore. It’s necessary but unpleasant to fix a cavity.
Phrasal verbs with TAKE
take after somebody
~ to look or behave like an older member of your family, especially your mother or father
“Your daughter doesn’t take after you at all.” = Your daughter doesn’t look or act like you.
take something down
① ~ to remove a structure, especially by separating it into pieces
“At the end of our camping trip we had to take down the tents and put them in the car.” = We had to separate the poles and other pieces that make our tents after our camping trip.
“Workmen arrived to take down the scaffolding.” = Workers separated the pieces of scaffolding after the work was done.
② ~ to remove something from the internet or a website
“The webmaster will decide whether to take down the web page or make the required changes.” = The person in charge of the website will change the page or remove it from the website.
take it out on (somebody or something)
~ to behave in an unpleasant way towards somebody because you feel angry, disappointed, etc., although it is not their fault
“OK, so you had a bad day. Don’t take it out on me.” = Don’t treat me badly because you are having a bad day.
“She tended to take her frustrations out on her family.” = Her habit is to be unpleasant towards her family members when she feels frustrated.
take over (from somebody)
~ to begin to have control of or responsibility for something, especially in place of somebody else
“Paul’s daughter took over the business last July.” = Paul’s daughter controls the business now.
Collocations with GET and TAKE
Get as Become
It’s common in natural conversation to use GET instead of BECOME. We can use this with an adjective to describe a situation:
It’s getting hot. = It’s becoming hot here, it’s starting to be hot here.
Or a feeling:
I’m getting hot. = I am becoming hot, I’m starting to feel hot.
The following collocations use GET as BECOME
|Get angry/upset – If I play music too loud my neighbors get angry.|
|Get dark – It’s getting dark, we should get home.|
|Get divorced/married – If you get married for the wrong reasons there is a good chance that you will get divorced after a few years.|
|Get dressed/undressed – I wake up at 6:30, have breakfast, get dressed, and go to work.|
|Get drunk – I got drunk on Friday and I felt terrible on Saturday morning.|
|Get fired – Harris got fired yesterday. He was caught sleeping at work.|
|Get frightened/scared – I heard a loud BANG and got scared.|
|Get hungry – It’s 1:00 PM, I’m getting hungry. Time for lunch.|
|Get late – It’s 1:00 AM, it’s getting late. Time to end the party.|
|Get lost – IKEA is huge. I was there last weekend and I got lost in the store for 30 minutes.|
|Get old – My car is getting old. I will have to buy a new one soon.|
|Get pregnant – My Grandmother got pregnant with her first child when she was just 19.|
|Get stuck – Let’s leave early, I don’t want to get stuck in traffic. (stuck in traffic means there are many cars on the road moving very slowly so you can’t move.)|
|Get tired – I’m getting tired of being stuck inside.|
|Get wet – It may rain later. Take your umbrella so you don’t get wet.|
|Get worried – It’s getting late and Peter isn’t home yet. I’m starting to get worried.|
When GET is used with a noun it means to receive or possess that thing. Here are some common examples:
- Get a call
- Get a chance
- Get a degree/ a diploma
- Get a tan
- Get good/top/bad marks
- Get some sleep (This is the noun form of sleep)
EVEN More common uses!
- Get away – Leave a place or situation ~ Those guys look dangerous. Let’s get away from them.
- Get going – Start moving / depart ~ It’s 8:30, we have to get going!
- Get the message – Understand what is meant ~ She told me that wants to see other people which means we are broken up. I got the message.
- Get nowhere – Not make progress ~ All this discussion gets us nowhere. It’s time to act.
- Get permission – Consent ~ I got permission from the boss to hire an assistant. It will make things easier for me.
- Get started – Begin ~ If everyone is ready why don’t we get started.
- Get home – Arrive at your house ~ I didn’t get home from work until 9:00 last night.
- Get into trouble – Receive punishment ~ I got into trouble a lot when I was in Jr. high school.
- Get ready – Prepare for something ~ A big typhoon is coming. It will hit in 2 days so we had better get ready.
- Get to sleep – Fall asleep ~ It’s time to get to sleep, I have an early meeting tomorrow.
- Get together – Meet and spend time with ~ John and I got together after work on Friday. It was nice to catch up. (Catch up means to talk about what has happened since we last met.)
|Take a look (at) = focus on something – The rash on your arm is getting bigger. You should have a doctor take a look at it.|
|Take a bath/shower – I take a shower before I go to bed.|
|Take a break/rest – I’ve been studying for hours. I need to take a break.|
|Take a picture – I woke up at 4:30 today so I could take a picture of the sunrise.|
|Take a seat = (please) sit down – Please come in and take a seat.|
|Take notes = write notes – It’s good to take notes during your lessons. This helps you remember new information.|
|Take care = be careful (sometimes used as a parting greeting – when you go away from each other) – Thanks for coming to my party. Take care and I’ll see you later.|
|Take care of = look after someone or something – My neighbor is visiting Peru for 3 weeks so I will take care of his cat while he is gone.|
|Take a class/a course – I’m taking a course in Ikebana. Ikebana is Japanese flower arranging.|
|Take a taxi/train/bus – When it’s raining hard I take a bus to the train station. (Take the bus and the train are also possible.)|
|Take a test/an exam – I don’t like to take tests. I get nervous every time.|
|Take your time = don’t rush, do something slowly – It’s only 4:30 so please take you time. We’ll have dinner after you arrive.|
|Take a bite (of something) – Who took a bite of my sandwich!|
|Take medicine – The doctor gave me some cream for my rash but I don’t have to take any medicine.|
|Take a trip/a vacation – My family takes a trip to Hawaii every year.|
GET and TAKE – Conclusion
Thanks for reading this blog post. Was it helpful? I included lots of examples and versions of these 2 verbs but there are MORE! Keep studying and keep learning full sentences. As you read this post and learn how to use GET and TAKE you are also using articles (A, An, and The), prepositions (In, Of, To, From etc.), adverbs (Before, Yet, About, etc.), and more. My blog will improve your English in ways that you don’t even know! This is my dream, thank you for being part of it and I hope you have an awesome day!
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Thanks to some sites that came before me and helped my research: