How to Use Get vs. Take like a Native English Speaker

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Learn the difference between the verbs get and take. In this Advanced English lesson, we run through different communication contexts and scenarios where you would use "get" and "take," complete with ample examples.

This morning, I got coffee from my favorite neighborhood cafe, then I took a 10 min walk to the Farmer’s Market. I was going to take my bike but then I decided to walk instead. At the Farmer’s Market I got delicious summer fruit; cherries, plums, peaches, apricots and nectarines. I took a quick look at the veggies but they were out of swiss chard so I checked out another produce stand close by. I got 3 bundles of swiss chard and some heirloom tomatoes. After getting groceries, I got a cab near the produce stand and took it all the way home because I had a lot to carry!

As I was recounting my day, I used the verbs “get” and “take”. Did you notice the difference between these two verbs? Today we’re discussing when to use “get” and when to use “take” because it’s easy to confuse these two verbs.

If you’re ready, grab a warm beverage and a notebook and let’s get started.

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We will first start with GET.

PROCURE, BUY, OBTAIN, & ACQUIRE

We use GET when we procure, buy, obtain, or acquire something. For example: maybe you need special shoes for ballroom dancing. You might say “Where can I get ballroom dancing shoes?” Or maybe you notice that the coffee machine at work is broken. You might tell your supervisor, “We need to get a new coffee machine in the breakroom. Maybe we should get a Nespresso, I hear those are more reliable.”

GETTING SOMETHING AND RECEIVING IT FROM SOMEONE ELSE

We use get when we receive something from someone else.

For example, you got an A on your recent test (the teacher graded the test and gave you an A). Fred got a raise at work and he’s super happy about that. Fred’s boss decided to give him a raise because he’s been outperforming his teammates.

Mathilda got a gold medal in the 100 meter dash. The judges gave her a gold medal.

Someone might ask you “what did you get for your birthday?” And they mean what did you get from your friends and family for your birthday?
If you forget your wallet somewhere, you have to go get it. For instance, Matt left his wallet at school and now he needs to go get it from the Lost and Found.

UNDERSTAND SOMETHING

Millennials don’t always understand Gen Z fashion. Millennials just don’t get Gen Z fashion.  

Your best friends get you, they understand you and love you for who you are.

When you finally understand a difficult math problem you might exclaim, “I finally got it!”

If someone makes a joke and everyone’s laughing but you, you might turn to the person who made the joke and say “I don’t get it, what’s so funny?”

When you explain something complicated to someone just once and they get it right away, you think “oh wow, they’re smart. They got that so quickly.”

I don’t often need to explain why I do what I do. My husband just gets me.

CHANGE IN MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, OR PHYSICAL STATE (~BECOME, START, FEEL)

We use “get” to describe a change in the status quo or a change in something. When something goes from one state and becomes something else.

For example, you’re hiking in the woods and you tell your friend that you should be out of the park before it gets dark.

If someone is hangry that means that they are getting hungry and angry at the same time.

If you used to like wearing something but not so much anymore you might say “I must be getting tired of wearing the same outfits all the time.” or “I must've gotten tired of wearing heels to work, now I prefer ballet flats.”

When you want a date to be over you might say to the person, “It’s getting late, I should head back I have an early morning tomorrow.”

When you notice the wind blowing fiercely, you might say it’s getting really windy. We might have to go back inside.

Or if it’s super hot out but now the temperature dropped slightly  you might say, “It’s finally getting cooler out. Let’s eat outdoors tonight.”

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What about TAKE?

Unlike GOT, which can be more passive, TAKE is active.

You’re the one who’s doing the action. You did something to procure the object. And it’s possible that you did it without asking.

We use TAKE when we want to physically take or procure something and be able to use it.

For example, I took my sunglasses from my room before I left the apartment.

I know a lot of athletes who like taking Epsom Salt baths in the evening to relax their muscles.

You might tell someone to take your number in case they need to reach you.

If you go to the Information Desk in museums they’ll tell you to take a brochure and a map of the museum.

A doctor might tell you to take D3 supplements if you’re deficient in vitamin D.

Everyone has their preference, but some people prefer to take their shower in the morning.

TO GET SOMETHING AND USE IT WITHOUT PERMISSION

Josef saw that a fancy pen got left on the table after the meeting so he took it. Later he found out that it was Julia’s and she wanted it back.

Sam left his seat for two minutes to go get some water before the movie started and when he came back his seat was taken.

Harriet took her mother’s pearl necklace and earrings to wear to her interview.

Anthony forgot his phone so he took his coworker’s phone when he wasn’t looking so that he could place a call.

Mercedes took her father’s car before he was up so she just left a note on the fridge giving him a heads up.

TRANSPORT, CARRY, CHANGE LOCATION OF SOMETHING OR SOMEONE

When you notice your dog needs to go to the bathroom, you take your dog out for a walk.

If your boss gets a delivery, you might be asked to take it to her.

If someone is visiting your hometown, you might take them to your favorite places.

When your parents are visiting you, they take you to a fancy restaurant for dinner.

Your boss tells you to take the meeting notes to the tech team so they can build the app.

A lot of Elementary schools in the US do a “Take your daughter to work day” of course it could also be “take your son to work day.”

Many parents take their kids to school before they head to work.

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Alright let me ask you this.

If you see fresh strawberries at the Farmer’s Market what do you do? Do you take them or get them? I’ll give you a second.

You get them.

If you got strawberries from the Farmer’s Market, it means you purchased them.
If you took strawberries from the Farmer’s Market it means you stole them, because you took them without paying.

At a restaurant if you take a menu what does that mean? I’ll give you a second.

It means that you took it yourself because the waiter never came to your table.

Finally the waiter comes to your table and sees that you already have menus.

What do you say? I’ll give you a second to think.

You say, “Thanks. We already got menus. I saw that you were busy so I got them from the empty table over there.”

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Woohoo amazing work! That wasn’t easy.

Be sure to download the worksheet PDF that comes with this lesson so that you can practice what you learned today.

Let’s recap.

Take and get are both verbs and get easily confused.

GET means to obtain something and gain possession of this object. If you receive an item from someone else, you get it. GET can also mean to understand something. If you change your state of being, you can use GET as in “get hungry, get cold, get hot, get upset, get sick, get well, etc.”)

TAKE means you take something without asking for permission. You might actively grab something with your hands and use it for yourself. You can also use TAKE when taking about taking something to another location (i.e., taking the dog out, taking your kids to school, etc.)

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Alright Advanced English learners, thanks for joining me in this lesson. If you are watching this lesson on YouTube be sure to give the lesson a big thumbs up and subscribe to the channel. If you’re listening to the podcast version of this lesson and love our podcast, be sure to leave us a 5 star review, that really helps us out! And turn notifications on so you never miss a beat! The full transcript of this lesson can be found on our blog, so be sure to check out advanced english dot co forward slash blog. And while you’re there feel free to sign up for our free newsletter so you can get lessons delivered to your inbox each week! See you in the next Advanced English lesson where we’ll continue advancing your English together! Until then, keep up the awesome work.