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Take and Get

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This week, we received the same question from a fan in Italy and another in Brazil. But, we are sure the question is shared by even more English learners-so let’s answer it!

Could I know the different meanings of “take” and “get?”
Thanks –Bruna, Italy.

Hello. Good Evening...

I would like to know the difference between the words “get” and “take?” And how can I use them in a sentence? -Arthur, Brazil.


Dear Bruna and Arthur,

Thanks for writing to us. The main difference between these two words concerns ‘who’ is performing the action.

Overall difference

“Get” and “take” are verbs.

“Get” means to gain possession of something. Another word for get is obtain. The word “receive” can also sometimes substitute for “get.”

Ellen got the new bike on her birthday.

“Take” means “to move or carry something from one place to another.”

Ellen takes her new bike everywhere she needs to go.

“Take” often suggests to gain possession of something by force, illegally or unfairly. Then it is similar to verbs like “seize” and “capture.”

The military took control of the country after the soldiers rebelled.


Take is also often used more idiomatically, as well, in providing directions to a place. For example:

Jack’s store is on Robbins Road. Take 4th Street for a mile and you will see it.

In that case, take means “use” or “follow.”

Confusingly, “take” can also be used similar to the verb “give,” like in this sentence:

Michael takes care of Jennifer’s dog.

In that case, the speaker means Michael is the person responsible for meeting the dog’s needs. He is the caregiver to the dog.

Finally, “take” is often used in connection with expressions of time. For example:

Ellie takes 30 minutes to get ready for work.

That sentence has the exact same meaning as “Ellie spends 30 minutes to get ready for work.”


“Get” also is common to idiomatic expressions. It often substitutes for the verbs “understand” and “know.” Listen to this sentence:

I get that we have to learn math but I do not like it.

Sometimes that usage clearly suggests a speaker’s impatience or frustration.

“I get it, Mom! I have to clean my room today.”

Finally, “get” is a common substitute for verbs “feel,” “become,” or “start,” among others. Here are some examples:

I’m going to leave for lunch when I get hungry.

She gets sad on rainy days.

He left the show when the music got loud.

There are many more idiomatic uses of “get” and “take.” Look for them whenever you get to practice your English! We are sure to take up the subject again.

And that’s Ask a Teacher for this week.

What question do you have about American English? Send us an email at

I’m Jill Robbins.

And I’m Gregory Stachel.

Gregory Stachel and Jill Robbins wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story

literal adj. giving the meaning of each individual word

idiomatic adj. an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its separate words but that has a separate meaning of its own

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