Get with infinitives and –ing forms

Get can be followed by –ing forms and infinitives. There is usually a difference of meaning.

Get + -ing form is sometimes used to mean ‘start doing something’. Common expressions are: get going and get moving.

  • Let’s get going.

The structure get + object + -ing form means ‘make somebody / something start doing something’.

  • Don’t get her talking about her problems.

When get is followed by an infinitive, it means ‘manage’ or ‘have an opportunity’.

  • When do I get to see you again? (= When will I have an opportunity to see you again?)
  • I didn’t get to see him. (= I didn’t manage to see him.)
  • Although we lived in the same apartment for several years, I never really got to know him.
  • He is getting to be a naughty boy.
  • You will get to drive more confidently as time goes by.
  • You will get to speak fluent English as time goes by.

The structure get + object + infinitive means ‘make somebody / something do something’. There is often an idea of difficulty.

  • I couldn’t get him to sign that paper.
  • I couldn’t get the car to start.
  • I couldn’t get the baby to drink the milk.
  • I can’t get that child to go to bed.