What does "get to" mean in the following excerpt taken from the book "The Drop" by Michael Connelly? The "Get to" is at the end of the excerpt. I have written it in bold. Thank you very much for the help.

“Harry,” the lieutenant said. “Hang back a second.” Bosch looked at Chu and raised his eyebrows. He didn’t know what this was about. The lieutenant came around from behind her desk and closed the door after Chu and Marcia had left. She stayed standing and businesslike. “I just wanted you to know that your application for an extension on your DROP came through. They gave you four years retroactive.” Bosch looked at her, doing the math. He nodded. He had asked for the maximum — five years non-retroactive — but he’d take what they gave. It wouldn’t keep him much past high school but it was better than nothing. “Well, I’m glad,” Duvall said. “It gives you thirty-nine more months with us.” Her tone indicated that she had read disappointment in his face. “No,” he said quickly. “I’m glad. I was just thinking about where that would put me with my daughter. It’s good. I’m happy.” “Good then.” That was her way of saying the meeting was over. Bosch thanked her and left the office. As he stepped back into the squad room he looked across the vast expanse of desks and dividers and file cabinets. He knew it was home and that he would get to stay — for now.

  • 1
    in this context you could directly replace 'get to' with be allowed to – Graham Griffiths Aug 19 '13 at 12:28

"He gets to stay" is the same as "He can stay" or "He is able to stay".

You can use "get to" when, for whatever reason, you are able to do something.

For example, the following is valid:

If you join our club you get to go on some interesting trips.

| improve this answer | |

Get has numerous meanings and shades of meaning in English. In this context get means to be able to do something

1 b (intransitive): to reach or enter into a certain condition got to sleep after midnight

| improve this answer | |

Get does indeed have a lot of meanings; most of them, as here, are idiomatic.

This particular get idiom consists of the verb get, in all its inflected and uninflected forms, as required by the construction, plus an immediately following to-infinitive clause.

  • I get to see him every day. ~ She got to go last year; this year it's my turn.

In semantics, it's a paraphrase for the modal auxiliary verb may, in its deontic sense of 'be allowed', though get to doesn't have the implication of overt authority that be allowed to does.

Be able to -- another modal paraphrase, for can -- in a particular sense referring to whims of fate, is often closer in sense, though that particular sense of be able to goes far beyond any literal sense of personal capability.

  • I'm allowed to see him every day. ~ She was allowed to go last year; this year it's my turn.
  • I'm able to see him every day. ~ She was able to go last year; this year it's my turn.

This idiomatic modal paraphrase
- get + to Infinitive (paraphrasing may, in its deontic 'be allowed/able to' sense)
is in parallel with the other Auxiliary + to Infinitive modal paraphrases:
- have to (paraphrasing must, usually only in its deontic 'be obliged to' sense), and
- be to (paraphrasing will, usually only in its epistemic 'future; scheduled' sense).

  • I have to see him every day. ~ She had to go last year; this year it's my turn.
  • I am to see him every day. ~ She was to go last year; this year it's my turn.

Get to is not to be confused, by the way, with gotta, from have/has got to, yet another modal paraphrase (equivalent to have to). They're easy to confuse in print, but in English, as usual, pronunciation distinguishes:
- We got to go, meaning we were able/allowed to go, is pronounced /wiɡattəɡo/ (double /tt/)
- We('ve) got to go, meaning we must go, is pronounced /wi(v)ɡaɾəɡo/ (/v/ is usually deleted)

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.