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Which of the following would be correct? Is it a question of dialect?

  • "If this question gets answered, ..."
  • "If this question is answered, ..."

(Inspired by this answer.)

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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I offered my correction to Tim because, in the question in question, the implication in "if guns get outlawed..." is that some external agency (malign in this case) would be required for change to be effected. "If guns are outlawed..." seems much more value-neutral to me. I accept that the difference is subtle, but I believe it's there -my ear and kiamaluno's graph say as much to me.

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Ah, I understand. Thank you. –  Tim N Feb 16 '11 at 12:13
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Either one is fine. Functionally there is no difference between the two.

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Both the phrases are understood to have the same or similar meaning; to get an answer means to obtain an answer.

Looking at which phrase between gets answered, gets an answer, and is answered is the most used in American English, I obtain the following data:

first chart

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The problem with this comparison is that "is answered" shows up in two situations. One is when it is the passive form of "answer" — the act of answering. The other is when "answered" is a past participle, and you are expressing a completed act: "the phone is answered already". "Gets answered" can only show up as an alternative to the passive (the first situation) and can't be used in the second situation. So while I don't doubt that the "is"-version is more common, this chart may overstate the extent to which they differ. –  Kosmonaut Feb 16 '11 at 15:07
    
The phone is answered already would not be a common construct, although the question is answered already might be in some dialects. A much more likely construct for either would use has been: the question has been answered already. –  bye Feb 16 '11 at 16:06
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Or "The question is answered in Bloggs, chapter 5". –  psmears Feb 16 '11 at 16:36
    
Thanks for the better examples, folks. –  Kosmonaut Feb 17 '11 at 3:14
    
I know that is answered catches two different situations, but also searching for the question is answered would catch two different situations (it could be part of the question is answered by me). –  kiamlaluno Feb 17 '11 at 10:55
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