A past question I wrote was corrected, from:

But I can't get to know how to precisely perform them


But I don't know how to consistently perform them

( https://gaming.stackexchange.com/posts/16202/revisions )

To me it felt like my version implied that I tried many times but ultimately failed. The second version doesn't have this implication.

So, was my first formulation really incorrect? If so, how can I formulate this in order to emphasize the fact I tried many times and still failed to understand ?


The problem with your original version is that the phrase to get to know is an idiom that refers to coming to know someone personally. It would be normal English to say:

I got to know John after hanging out with him at a party.

I can't really get to know Mary because she lives so far away.

It sounds very odd to use the phrase to get to know to describe coming to know intellectual knowledge or learning how to perform a particular technique. To express failure to acquire impersonal knowledge after multiple tries, you could say:

I still can't figure out...

I can't wrap my head around...

I still don't get it.

Or any number of other formulations.

  • +1, nice write up; following it further, I think it is ok to push the idiom on any subject, if you personify it: e.g. ”I am getting to know all the moods of the storage system.”, ”I can't really get to know how it would behave in VM because I don't have permissions to create one to play with it.” – Unreason Aug 9 '11 at 14:33
  • 2
    +1 I'd nearly finished typing my answer making the same points less eloquently. For the first time ever, I clicked on "Load new Answer" to see yours before posting mine. So the upvote is partly for a good answer, partly for sparing me the humiliation of offering up a poor imitation of it! :) – FumbleFingers Aug 9 '11 at 14:35
  • @Unreason: I wouldn't try to extend the "idiom" as you suggest. The first one might be okay (except I have no idea what the "moods" of a storage system could mean). But the second one is just pointless verbosity that would be better as just know, learn, see, or establish. – FumbleFingers Aug 9 '11 at 14:40
  • @Aleanno, just tried to pint out that idiom can be used also in another scenario. Just thought of another example: I am getting to know what it means to address someone properly. JSBᾶngs' definition (coming to know someone personally) seems to apply only when there is a simple, direct object. – Unreason Aug 9 '11 at 14:54
  • I didn't know "get to know" refers to knowing someone, thanks for the clarification. I think "I still can't figure out" is what I was looking for. – BiAiB Aug 9 '11 at 15:12

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