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.

  • 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. Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 17:10
  • @JohnLawler "Get" doesn't have the sense that the subject didn't act to come to possession, right? I mean, can I use "get" in any case instead of "take" except for the cases when "take" means "steal"? Can I use "get" when I put in effort to acquire something as well? I am only talking about the situations when they mean "obtain" of course. I know that they can't be interchangeable in the collocations like "take a shower". For example, are these interchangeable: "I got the food from the fridge and heated it." and "I took the food from the fridge and heated it."? Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 12:54

7 Answers 7


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.

  • 1
    Get out and get up are both phrasal verbs with its own meaning. Commented Oct 11, 2010 at 3:37
  • And the most confusing phase of all I'll take what I get Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 20:55
  • @OneTwoThree In Br English at least we have "I'll take what I'm given" and "I'll get what I'm given" which rather support John Lawler's comment to the OP. In other words that "get" is rather less volitional than "take". In the first case 'take' really means 'accept' but still implies a decision to do so.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 13:12
  • That took a dark turn from going to the opera to doing cocaine. I presume the date didn't go all that well.
    – fatih
    Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 15:41

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

  • "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
    Commented Oct 7, 2010 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.


"Get" also means to go and "fetch" something then bring it back to where you currently are.

You left your book in your locker? Go get it.

"Take your book" would be to grab it and go elsewhere, like from home to school.


There is two words of same meaning that is "take" & "get". Mostly, words "take" is use to be for take something hard. For example, take my pen. Whilst word "get" is to be use for get permission from someone.

  • Welcome to ELU. This question has an accepted answer 6 years ago, so is presumed closed. If you want to find some newer questions to answer, check here. Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 13:14

It depends how you 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, took) the suspect by force as he left the restaurant. In this example, either of the two verbs in the parenthesis are correct.

  • Check out the difference between "took" and "toke."
    – deadrat
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 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
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 9:30

Given that both take and get have many uses and idioms, the short answer is: When talking about movement take is usually away, and done by the speaker. Get is usually towards and often done by someone else. For example I get groceries from the store. I take them home. Or with an example like "I take a taxi." or "I get a taxi." They mean practically the same thing. But the first emphasizes the fact that you will go by taxi. Getting a taxi emphasizes the act of calling a service to have someone bring a taxi. (that you then take to a destination.) When discussing acquiring things, take emphasizes the act and can be with or without permission. Again, the subject is doing the taking. Get implies permission and often that someone else is doing the giving. An Example is an adult walks into the break room and takes a cookie. (maybe he had permission, maybe he didn't. we don't know.) He tells his son, "If you are good you will get a cookie." The kid will have explicit permission to receive the cookie and likely someone else will give it to them.

Keep in mind that get can also mean to become or to understand. And take is used in several idiomatic expressions like, "My take" which refers to your opinion. Because English is crazy like that. ;-)

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    – livresque
    Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 2:01

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