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What is the difference between "get" and "take"? Both are used to describe receiving something. By intuition I mostly guess which one to use, but would like to know some rule which will stick in my head.

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Both verbs mean the subject comes to possess the object, but take has an additional sense that the subject acted -- did something -- in order to come to possess the object. This might be with or without permission of the current possessor, if there is one, so take can be used to mean steal, whereas get doesn't invite that inference. – John Lawler Apr 29 '15 at 17:10
up vote 4 down vote accepted

It's hard to say. Generally, take denotes an active action, like "I took his cheese," while get denotes a passive one, like "I got my paycheck today." Besides that, you just have to memorize which one to use where.

Examples of take:

  • I take a shower.
  • I take it that you're going. (Meaning: From what I can tell, you are going.)
  • I take my pills daily. (Action of consuming.)
  • I took your cheese. (Physical removal of an object.)
  • The main point I took away from that was... (understanding a concept)
  • I took her to the opera. (Conducting someone.)
  • I took up doing cocaine. (to start a habit)

Examples of get:

  • I got my paycheck. (Received from someone else giving it to you.)
  • I get you. (As in, I understand you).
  • I didn't get that, please repeat it. (As in, I didn't hear).
  • Get out of here.
  • Get dressed. Take your time. (From PyroTiger).
  • Get up!
  • Get a life.

I could go on. You can check dictionary.com's entries on take and get for more.

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Get out and get up are both phrasal verbs with its own meaning. – Arthur Ronald Oct 11 '10 at 3:37

In my sense, take will denote some action from the subject, whereas get is more passive.

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"Take" refers specifically to the deliberate action of acquisition. This cannot be a passive action. "Get" is a more general verb which is passive and has no sense of the means by which something was acquired. Note that this basic difference in definition only applies to the verbs in their simplest forms, so common constructions such as "get dressed" or "take your time" would not make sense if the verb was swapped. – PyroTyger Oct 7 '10 at 8:16

"I take from you. You get from me."

The first sentence would be construed as I don't require your permission to 'get' something. The second sentence would mean that unless I give, you cannot 'take' something.

'Take' would seem authoritative when used in a 'person as a subject' setting.

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It depends how you will use the two words. The both words can be used as passive or active verb depending on the situation.

Let's look at this example: My boss asked me to (take, get) the office key from his office assistant. Here, if you use (take), your expression may sound harsh.

Example 2: The detective (got, toke) the suspect by force as he left the restaurant. In this example, either of the two verbs in the parenthesis are correct.

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Check out the difference between "took" and "toke." – deadrat Jul 3 '15 at 17:40
@Dave you meant took? (got, took). toke: (from dictionary.com) 1.(slang) a tip or gratuity given by a gambler to a dealer or other employee at a casino. 2. (slang) a puff of a marijuana or hashish cigarette – Flonne Lightberry May 29 at 9:30

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