My teacher is an international and I heard that he said "let me get back your homework to you".

Is it correct? or he should have said "let me give back your homework to you"?

I am a Teacher Assistance, and one of my student said that "I haven't got my papers back"?

Why both sentences uses get?

Did I hear wrongly?

I want to use this sentence if it is correct.

1- Let me give back your homework to you. (Correct or incorrect).

2- I haven't got my papers back. (Correct or incorrect).

3- Let me get back your homework to you. (Correct or incorrect).

4- Let me get your homework back to you. (Correct or incorrect).

If I have heard something wrongly, please correct me.

  • It depends on whether your teacher had the homework in his possession. when he said that.
    – user91988
    Nov 8, 2018 at 22:45
  • He had had the homework in his possession.
    – Saeed
    Nov 8, 2018 at 23:04
  • 1
    He’s using get in the sense of “let me get your homework back to you”
    – Jim
    Nov 9, 2018 at 0:06
  • Hi @Jim, that is what I put in my answer below.
    – Karlomanio
    Nov 9, 2018 at 20:53

3 Answers 3


In American English, it is correct to use "get back" to mean give back but the verb phrase get back needs to be separated by the Direct Object see the MacMillan Dictionary, definition number 4

It sounds extremely awkward though to NOT separate the verb particle in the phrasal verb expression as the teacher did, but apparently it may be correct.

It sounds okay to say, "I need to get that back to you" and "Let me get your homework back to you." In contrast, it sounds very strange to say, "I need to get back that to you" and "Let me get back your homework to you."


If "get it to you" is assumed to a causative form of "you have it from me" then we can predict the place of "back" in the causative from from its position in the possessive form. Comparing

      You have it back from me.
     *You have back it from me.   

we see that "back" cannot come between the verb "have" and the object "it". This should carry over from the possessive form to the corresponding causative:

      I'll get it back to you.  
     *I'll get back it to you.  

And it does carry over, as we see, at least when the direct object is the simple pronoun "it".

The issue is complicated by the fact that as the direct object becomes longer and more complicated, it becomes easier to export it (by "Heavy NP Shift") to the end:

      ??I'll get back to you your homework.
        I'll get back to you the homework that I graded last week.  

Similarly, verb and simple direct object must be contiguous in particle verb constructions:

        I looked up her old address.  
       *I looked up it.
        I looked it up.

"1- Let me give back your homework to you. (Correct or incorrect).correct

2- I haven't got my papers back. (Correct or incorrect).incorrect. I didn't get my papers (back)

3- Let me get back your homework to you. (Correct or incorrect). Incorrect Let me give back your homework (to you)

4- Let me get your homework back to you. (Correct or incorrect)." Incorrect. Let me give your homework back (to you)

Between the two choices "give" and "get"

"give" Would be what the person handing out the homework should say

"Get" Would be what the person receiving the homework should say.

But of course other synanyms could also be used. This assumes nothing about the status of the homework, ie. Weather it is graded or not.

A key word to look for to determine weather or not the homework is graded or not would be, "back", i.e.

A teacher talking to his\her students would say "Allow me to give you back your homework" If it has already been graded.

As opposed to

"Allow me to give you, your homework." Which tells you nothing about it being graded

Both could be correct

When it comes to things like

"Haven't got" as in

"I haven't got my homework back."

That just doesn't seem right, and even though it very well could be correct, instead English speakers, American English speakers anyway, would say,

"Didn't get" as in

"I didn't get my homework back."

And I honestly i do not know why, but it just sounds better. But the reasoning could go deeper than that.

Small side note, a "teacher assistance" would be a tool or aid that is of assistance to the teacher, and not a person. an overhead projector, or something like that that makes the job easier in a mechanical way, or even a verbal note. Would be more in line with that title. Your title would be a "teacher's assistant" or a "teacher's aide".

  • 1
    Change “should” to “could”. But then this doesn’t amount to an answer. It doesn’t address the fact that there’s nothing wrong with, “I’d like to get these back to you as quickly as possible.”. for example.
    – Jim
    Nov 9, 2018 at 2:41
  • 1
    @Jim A teacher would never say that to a student unless talking about returning graded homework. Rather, if waiting for students to do their homework, what would be said is "I'd like you to get them back to me as quickly as possible." Nov 9, 2018 at 2:54
  • 1
    @JasonBassford - Of course I’m talking about returning graded homework. That seems to be what OP is talking about when he suggests that “let me give back your homework” might be more appropriate.
    – Jim
    Nov 9, 2018 at 2:55
  • 1
    @Jim The question doesn't specify if the homework has been graded or not. The answer here does make that assumption—and is correct based on that assumption. My comment is to say that there isn't anything about the answer that's incorrect. (Although the assumption that it's homework still to be done by the students could be made more explicit.) Nov 9, 2018 at 3:01
  • 1
    @jim, that example was not asker by the asked of the question, saeed, I was purely answering Saeed. In response to your question though, it wouldn't really be proper "get" is used when reciveing something, if he was passing them out he SHOULD have said "give" instead of "get". Also in my answer I was using should in this sense aswell, between these two choices, and only these two choices, but yes other words that mean the same thing COULD be used Nov 9, 2018 at 7:14

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