I get you want to help.

Does get in this context mean "know"? Or "understand"?

  • I think this ought to be migrated to English Language Learners, but that's just my opinion. And yes, the word "get" in this context means "know" or "understand". Another good substitution might be "realize": I realize you want to help.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 17:23
  • 1
    Some people tend to use 'get' as a substitute for 'understand' or 'gather'. 'Do you get me?', some will say after explaining something a bit complicated. It is an unsophisticated slang use and not something recommended for an important interview!
    – WS2
    Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 17:39
  • 2
    In this context, it means grok. Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 17:54
  • And I've never heard it used with a main clause (I get you want to help) rather than a noun phrase (Ah, I get Bob now) or a what-clause (I get what you mean). 'Understand' accepts all three (the first a reduced that-clause). Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 17:55
  • @Edwin, it is quite common with a subordinate clause (not a main clause). “Yes, I get that you want me to help you, but I can’t help you unless you tell me how!”, for example, is perfectly common, though perhaps more AmE than BrE. Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 20:25

2 Answers 2


In this case, "get" means to understand something said (or hinted) by someone else.

Normally, "get" means to receive something from another person: "I got your letter" means "I received the letter that you gave me.

Therefore, the sentence "I get you want to help" means "I received the information that you told (or implied to) me, which is that you want to help."


When you "get it", you understand something, therefore, in this context:

I get = I understand

  • It can be risky arguing for parallels even using apparently closely related structures, mirabelle, especially where idioms are involved: 'When you "beat it", you hurriedly leave somewhere, therefore I beat = I hurriedly leave.' [F] The fact that 'beat it' is widely used and understood doesn't guarantee that 'beat' can be used similarly without the 'it'. Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 22:42
  • certainly - context is king.
    – rmirabelle
    Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 22:21
  • So the 'therefore' is not necessarily (I'd say not) accurate here. Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 22:31
  • @EdwinAshworth updated. You're picky ;-)
    – rmirabelle
    Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 22:36
  • English is finicky. If you've just spent hours finalising the best scheme of work ever, you don't necessarily want to be labelled a schemer. Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 22:39

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