Get – Go – Turn – Become

Get is a very common verb in English, but it is not always appropriate for talking about changes. Note also alternatives to get which can improve your style.

Go, not get

Go is used for changes in people’s personality, appearance and physical abilities: People go mad/bald/grey/blind/deaf.

Go is often used for sudden, usually negative, changes: He was very embarrassed and his face went red. Suddenly the sky went very dark and it started to rain.

Go can also be used for slower colour changes:

The pages of the book had gone yellow over the years.

Turn, not get

Turn often collocates with colours: The sky turned gold as the sun set.

When the tomatoes turn red, the farmers pick them and sell them.

The news gave his mother such a shock that her hair turned white overnight.

Get and become

Get and become can often be used with the same collocations, but become is more formal

and is therefore more appropriate in essays:

She gave up smoking when she became pregnant.

I would like to become involved in raising money for charity.

The same is true for collocations with adjectives such as angry, bored, excited, depressed,

upset, impatient, violent-.

He became depressed after his wife’s death.

Become, not get, is used with the following: extinct, (un)popular, homeless, famous. Our local baker’s has become famous for its apple tarts.

Alternatives to get and become

She fell ill and was taken to hospital.

Everyone fell silent when they heard the shocking news.

As my father grew older, he spent less time working.

The noise grew louder and soon we realised it was a plane approaching.

Overusing and misusing get

Here are some sentences from students’ essays where get is wrongly used.

sentences with get more appropriate alternatives
1 was able to get new friends. 1 was able to make new friends.
A year ago he got a heart attack. A year ago he had/suffered a heart attack.
If 1 get a child of my own one day … If 1 have a child of my own one day …
1 was getting crazy. 1 was going crazy.
In June, 1 got a baby, James. In June, 1 had a baby, James.

big, large, great and tall- high

1.We use big mostly in an informal style.

  • We’ve got a big new house.
  • Get your big feet off my flowers.
  • That’s a really big improvement.
  • You’re making a big mistake.

In a more formal style, we prefer large or great.

Large is used with concrete nouns (the names of things you can see, touch, etc).

Great is used with abstract nouns (the names of ideas etc).

  • It was a large house situated near the river.
  • I’m afraid my daughter has rather large feet
  • Her work showed a great improvement last year.

With uncountable nouns, only great is possible.

  • There was great confusion about the dates. (NOT . . . big confusion . . .)
  • I felt great excitement as the meeting came nearer.

2. Tall is used to talk about vertical height (from top to bottom). It is mostly used for people; sometimes for buildings and trees. 

  • ‘How tall are you?’ ‘One metre ninety-one.’

3.We also use great to mean ‘famous’ or ‘important’.

  • Do you think Napoleon was really a great man?
  • Newton was probably the greatest scientist who ever lived.

4.We sometimes use great to mean ‘wonderful’ (very informal).

  • I’ve had a great idea!
  • How’s the new job?’ ‘Great.’
  • It’s a great car.

5. Note that large is a ‘false friend’ for people who speak some European languages. It does not mean the same as wide.

  • The river is a hundred metres wide. (NOT . . . metres large)

6. tall and high

a We use tall for things which are this shape:

We can talk about tall people, trees, and sometimes buildings.

  • How tall are you9 (NOT How high are you?)
  • There are some beautiful tall trees at the end of our garden.

We do not use tall for things which are this shape, We use high.

  • Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Europe (NOT . . . the tallest mountain.)
  • It’s a very high room. (NOT . . . tall room.)

b We use high to say how far something is above the ground.

  • A child standing on a chair may be higher than his father, but not taller.

c Parts of the body are long, not tall.

  • She’s got beautiful long legs. (NOT tall legs.)

go to, go on, go for, go -ing

I. go to … (go to work / go to London / go to a concert etc.)

  • What time do you usually go to work?
  • I’m going to France next week.
  • Tom didn’t want to go to the concert. –
  • ‘Where’s Ann?’    ‘She’s gone to bed.’
  • I went to the dentist last week.

go to sleep = start to sleep:

  • I was very tired and went to sleep quickly.

go home (without to)

  • I’m going home now. (not ‘going to home’)

II. go to

go on

go on

a trip
a tour

an excursion a cruise strike

  • We’re going on holiday next week.
  • Children often go on school trips.
  • When we were in Scodand, we went on a lot of excursions to different places.
  • The workers have gone on strike. (= they are refusing to work)

III. go for …

go (somewhere) for

a walk
a run
a swim a drink a meal a holiday
  • ‘Where’s Ann?’    ‘She’s gone for a walk.’
  • Do you go for a run every day?
  • The sea looks nice. Let’s go for a swim.
  • We went for a drink after work yesterday.
  • Shall we go out for a meal? I know a good restaurant.
  • They’ve gone to Scodand for a holiday.
    (We say ‘on holiday’ but ‘for a holiday’.)

IV.  go + -ing

We use go + -ing for many sports (swimming / skiing etc.) and also shopping:

  • Are you going shopping this afternoon?
  • It’s a nice day. Let’s go swimming, (or Let’s go for a swim.)
  • Rachel has a small boat and she often goes sailing.
  • I went jogging before breakfast this morning.

List G

good will or goodwill? Always write as one word when referring
to the prestige and trading value of a
He bought the GOODWILL for five
thousand pounds.
Use either two words or one word when
referring to general feelings of kindness
and support.
As a gesture of GOOD WILL,she
cancelled the fine.
gorilla or guerilla? A GORILLA is an animal.
A GUERILLA is a revolutionary fighter.