Don’t get scared now…

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Get has, well, got a lot of bad press over the years. Yet, it passes the first test of a useful word: it can say what its close synonyms cannot. “Johnny was arrested” sounds a bit pallid compared to “Johnny got arrested”, the latter carrying a little more of the speaker’s opinion of the event. “Got married” focuses on the event and the resultant state, whereas “was married” introduces a time element and suggests by focusing on the event that the state is no longer applicable. “Is married” focuses on the state and backgrounds the event.  But GET comes into its own when it’s used in phrases which have no natural-sounding equivalent: get stuffed, bent, happy, busy, better.  The word always seems to connote a directness and a sense of speaker involvement missing from prim synonyms.  And while “got married” might be the equivalent of “was married” in some contexts, the slangy substitutes, like “got hitched” don’t have that schoolmarm approved equivalent.  “Was hitched” suggests that someone tied the couple to a fence.

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