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Well, a letter that I wrote to a school included a sentence like this:

I got accepted with a full scholarship...

Then, a friend of mine from America changed it to:

I was accepted with a full scholarship...

First of all, was the change necessary? If so, why?

Thank you in advance!

  • Got accepted could hardly be wrong if it equated to I got what I wanted but wouldn't that call for pin-dancing around accepted with a full scholarship…? Either way was accepted sounds significantly better. – Robbie Goodwin Jul 23 '17 at 20:05
  • Both words are commonly used in sentences like this, but "was" is better in this case because of the subliminal connotations. This sounds like you're requesting admission/employment at the school and the sentence is evidence of your qualification. Schools select the cream of the applicants, looking for ones with no doubt as to qualification. "Was" just recites historical fact, raising no question of your expectation it would happen. "Got" implies it was an accomplishment, the outcome wasn't guaranteed. How far were you from zero doubt? It unnecessarily suggests possible lesser qualification. – fixer1234 Jul 24 '17 at 0:52
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It depends on to whom you're sending the letter. It wasn't necessary, but it was an improvement. "Got accepted" is a commonly used phrase and will be understood, but "was accepted" is better grammar.

Got is the past tense of the verb to get, which has multiple connotations - "to obtain [as in 'to get a degree']," "to reach a destination [as in 'to get there']," and "to become, or show a change of state [the connotation you're indicating above]."

While get can be used in passive construction - but isn't necessarily so, was can only be a passive construction - as the past tense of to be. The verb to be is a squirrelly one as it is, but at least it only indicates a state of being.

Hope this is clearer than mud!

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    Both get and be are used for forming passives in English. – tchrist Jul 23 '17 at 21:07
  • Thank you for the clarification, @tchrist! I'll edit my answer accordingly. – ingernet Jul 23 '17 at 22:21
  • "It depends on to whom ... " ? – Blessed Geek Jul 24 '17 at 1:15
  • Thank you for the answer, Ingernet! Yet, that does not explain why one is preferred over the other while both are acceptable forms. – Reactor4 Jul 24 '17 at 6:08
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To use "got" in that sentence, you would have to write something like

I got an acceptance letter...

in other words, you obtained something. But your sentence referred to an action by the school of which you were the recipient. Thus, your state of being was changed, and the "to be" verb is more correct:

You were accepted.

While "got" can indicate a change of state as well, as in: I got hot waiting in the sun, I think it is used more for change over time: The more I listened, the angrier I got. If I say: I was hot waiting in the sun, the sense of occurring over time is removed.

Despite your original formulation being very common and likely would have been unremarked, your American friend was correct. In any case, "was" sounds more polished.

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    So why can "got mugged" be acceptable while "got accepted by x" is not? – Reactor4 Jul 23 '17 at 22:14
  • They both get the point across. "Was" seems more precise and certainly sounds better in both cases. "He was mugged..." vs "He got mugged...". – CWill Jul 25 '17 at 1:05

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