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Words, words

Gennaio 2007
Con i suoi infiniti significati, get è la parola tuttofare della lingua inglese. Ma guai a sbagliarne l’uso.

di John Rigg

File audio:

Speakers: Rachel Roberts (Standard British accent ), Chuck Rolando (Standard American)

The word get has a ridiculous number of meanings, but it basically means “to obtain.”
It can involve a journey, to visit a shop, or a criminal act (such as robbery), but in the end you have obtained something. But what if someone tells you a joke and then asks, “Do you get it?” The question is a little redundant: if you “get it” – that is “understand” – then you’ll laugh, though that depends on the joke, of course.
Now we can add the preposition “to” and ask: “What time will we get to the airport?” Here the meaning is “arrive at.” However, “get to” can also mean “influence,” in the sense that a criminal can get to a witness (through a bribe or a threat of violence).


Criminals, of course, get away (or escape) from the scene of a crime in a getaway car. If they escape successfully, then they get away with the crime.
On the other hand, if someone tells you a ridiculous story, you can use the polite British exclamation: “Get away!” – which means you don’t believe them.
When you get into a car, you have to bend down; whereas, when you get on a bus or a plane, you stand up straight and walk on. When you get into music, or some other subject, you become fascinated and learn all about it. And when you get into trouble? Well, there are a million ways to get into trouble: from stealing, or crashing your car, to losing your keys, but when a girl gets into trouble, it normally means she has an unplanned pregnancy.


When children ask a thousand questions, they get on your nerves (they irritate you), and you get mad (really angry) and shout at them to shut up.
Children these days have no respect: they suggest you “Get lost!” – that is, disappear from the face of the Earth.

More on ‘get’ in the next issue.

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journey - viaggio.

robbery - rapina.

joke - barzelletta.

witness - testimone.

bribe - bustarella, tangente.

threat - minaccia.

to bend down - chinarsi.

you stand up straight - si sta in piedi diritti.

get into trouble - mettersi nei guai.

unplanned pregnancy - gravidanza non pianificata.