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Michael IELTS Band 9
Professional Teacher
Correct but strange (2) : be married / got married be burnt / got burnt etc

I sometimes see students produce sentences like these:

“I was married in 2012.”

“I spent yesterday on the beach and I was burned/burnt.”

“When I joined the company, I quickly was involved in an important project.”

 These are correct but they are not how native-speakers usually speak.  We would usually say:

“I got married in 2012.”  [“I am now still married”]

“I spent yesterday on the beach and I got burned/burnt.”

“When I joined the company, I quickly got involved in an important project.”

In the students’ sentences with “was”, “was” is used as part of a passive verb construction. If you added “by” + the agent i.e. who did the verb, this would make it clearer. “I was married by the priest”, “I was burnt by the sun”, “I quickly was involved in the project by my boss”. But this may not have been what the writers of these sentences really meant, and they may have written a correct sentence only by accident. 

In all of the sentences with “got”, we are talking about a process which changed the subject (“I”).  For this, we use the construction: “to get + past participle”. “Got” is the past simple form of “get”.  In many cases “become” also works, if you want to sound more formal.

So, “I got married” means that I went through the process i.e. the ceremony, which changed my marital status from single to “married”.  “Married” is used here as an adjective which describes “I”.   After the process was complete, I could then say “I am married.”  This is my new state.

Can you write sentences of your own with “get + past participle”? Some common examples are “get interested”, “get stuck”, and “get lost”. 

Sep 9, 2016 7:40 AM
Comments · 10

"Was" has more of an ongoing/steady feel to it, while "got" highlights a status change.


E.g.

Dr. Smithers is monotone and talks so slowly. I was so bored during his lecture today. But near the end of class, two guest speakers came in and talked about foreign exchange opportunities and I got really excited!


I got really mad when I found out my coworker embezzled money. I was upset for days.


Sometimes either can work: My wife just called and told me she got/was in a car accident.



September 9, 2016

Thanks, Laura.  Here's my feedback on your points:

Could you say: I married him in 2012?  Yes. It sounds fine.  

"We got married in 2012" would be natural if you wanted to refer to "we".

1. That was the first time we went to visit Sarah and we got lost. Next time we will get the GPS (or we will take?)  Good sentence.  

I recommend "use the GPS" as the most natural option, because "taking" it is not enough to avoid getting lost! You need to use it too.  But "take" is OK.  

Use "get a GPS" if you didn't have one before.

2. I wouldn't have got so discouraged if you have had supported me a bit more. (of have been so discouraged?)

Good, apart from the had.  You need past perfect with the third conditional.

In the US, "gotten" is normal and, as far as I know, "got" as the past participle form is considered a BrE usage. 

I recommend learning the different uses of "get" in context, and in small chunks.   Keep up the good work!

September 11, 2016

I am "following" the track of your discussions, they are very interesting specially because I make most of the mistakes described above.

Just a question, could you say: I married him in 2012?

Sentences:

1. That was the first time we went to visit Sarah and we got lost. Next time we will get the GPS (or we will take?)

2. I wouldn't have got so discouraged if you have supported me a bit more. (of have been so discouraged?)

Thank you!

The use of GET is very complex I think "somewhere" in italki there was an entry about the use of it. 

September 11, 2016

Thanks,

Short and funny.

September 9, 2016
I got acquainted with him thanks to this journey.
September 9, 2016
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Michael IELTS Band 9
Language Skills
English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Learning Language
German, Italian