I know than we can say

let's go by car


let's take the car (because it is too far to walk - and I already have the car nearby.)

But, can we say:

Let's get the car

And the same with the underground. We can say:

Let's go by underground.
Let's take the underground.

But, can we say:

Let's get the underground

I know about that 'take' is more AE and 'get' is more BE, but I'm not sure that it is correct to use 'get' with 'underground' and 'car' in BE in the meaning 'go by'.


3 Answers 3


I believe the word take in, "let's take the car" is implying that you bring the car with you where you go. Get doesn't seem to connote this and thus doesn't seem to fit.

  • "let's take the car" is implying that you bring the car with you where you go. - Yes, I mean I already have the car where I say: Let's get the car (because it is far away to walk). So I can't say this way?
    – Selio
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 22:13
  • "Let's get the car" implies bringing the car to where you are now before departing. "Let's take the car" does not. If you are already at the car there is no need to go get it.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 22:26
  • @Selio: Brits use take and get interchangeably with bus, train, plane, Tube, Underground, tram, etc., partly because they're all things running to a schedule, which we can "catch, obtain". We usually get a lift in another's car, but take (in the sense of "accept") can also be used there. But we never use get the car in this sense. Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 22:30

You are correct that in AmE we use take more than get to mean use as a means of transport.

But, there are circumstances where each is correct and/or incorrect.

You take the subway (underground), a train, a bus, a taxi, a boat, etc.. Generally, these are situations where someone else is doing the driving.

While you are on the vehicle, you are taking it. It is a continuous process.

If you say I took my car it means that you brought your own car somewhere, as opposed to someone else driving you. In other words, you transported your car somewhere in the process of it transporting you. The difference is subtle, and some might argue non-existent.

But, in AmE it sounds a bit funny to say:

Take your car to New Jersey, I'll meet you there.

Whereas, you would definitely say

Take the train to New Jersey, I'll meet you there.

For the first example, most would say "Drive your car to New Jersey . . ."

Now, as to get in AmE:

Get carries the implication of boarding the vehicle in question (and in most uses is interchangeable with catch -- e.g. catch a cab, etc.).

Americans get a taxi, get a bus, get a ride, etc. But, the implication is that you get things like the train, subway, taxi, bus, etc. at a station or other point of embarkation. In other words, once you are on said vehicle, you have already gotten it, and now you are riding in it.

If you say get the car, you mean, let's go walk over to it, and bring it here. The usage is similar to that of take.

Unfortunately, I cannot find any references beyond my word as a native speaker. The dictionary definitions are not enough to explain these nuances.

  • 1
    +1 particularly because I think the possibility of catching, obtaining (temporary/shared use of) the relevant type of transport vehicle is central to whether or not you can "get" it. The only one I can think of where that's not so obviously relevant is you can either get or take a lift with someone else (I'd normally use get there, but take doesn't sound particularly off to me). Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 22:48
  • @FumbleFingers Oddly, we never get an elevator in the US. We always take one.
    – David M
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 23:44
  • @FumbleFingers Do you mean 'get or take a lift with someone else' - to take the lift to reach up OR to ride with someone else in the car?
    – Selio
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 9:15
  • @Fumblefingers I totally misread that!!!!!! Yes, we only say get a lift (get a ride).
    – David M
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 12:49
  • @David: Never say never, and only say usually! Google Books "get the elevator to the" returns 159 hits. Granted, take there returns 63K hits, so it's a pretty strong preference. The UK equivalents (using lift) are get:117 and take:10K, so our preference is much the same. Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 16:08

EDIT: My assertion that it is wrong to say 'let's get the Underground' has been contested in the comments to my answer and disreputed with evidence, so my view on this should probably be disregarded.

In British English, to use 'get' to mean 'go by' would be incorrect in both of these cases. 'Let's get the Underground' doesn't make sense, and 'let's get the car' conveys that the car needs to be collected from somewhere.

Strangely, you can say 'let's get the bus' and 'let's get the train'. That's very odd, and it's not something I've ever noticed before reading your question!

  • 2
    -1 Plenty of Londoners get the Underground (or get the Tube) every day. If you can "catch" it, you can "get" it (that's why we don't "get the car" - we have to "take the car"). Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 22:08
  • I was born in London and have lived here for most of my life. I don't recall ever hearing anybody say 'get the Underground', and to my ear it sounds very strange. I don't see what your linked-to Google search proves, as only one instance of the phrase on the first page uses it in the sense of 'travel via', and it's used in what appears to be a children's book, and does so in reference to taking the metro to 'Tsim Sha Tsui station'. I'd like to know if my Oyster card is valid for that journey :)
    – 568ml
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 22:18
  • 568ml, I agree with FumbleFingers. I'm familiar with people saying get the Underground, referring to the London Underground.
    – Tristan r
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 22:31
  • 568ml: I've lived most of my 60 years within 20 miles of a Tube station, and the usage seems perfectly idiomatic to me. I admit that link wasn't actually a very good one - but 6 out of the first 7 results for get the Underground to match the context under consideration. Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 22:41
  • @FumbleFingers in that case I must yield to the presence of real evidence and concede that my usage is strange and non-standard, and will edit my answer to say so. I don't want to seem abrasive, but it really does sound odd to me, as would saying 'let's catch the Underground'. I think of the Underground as a vast, complex system rather than a discrete vehicle, and in this sense it feels jarring to say that you'd 'get it' from point A to B. Just as nonsensical is to say 'take the Underground', which is exactly what I would say, so I ought to stop trying to justify myself!
    – 568ml
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 22:49

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