1."Take a rest, Felicia, you don't need to get all the firewood stacked today."

2."Take a rest, Felicia, you don't need to stack all the firewood today."

What is the difference in meaning between the two examples? Can I use them interchangeably for the same meaning? please refer to example #7Source:


3 Answers 3


There is very little difference between "you don't have to get all the firewood stacked" and "you don't have to stack all the firewood today." I do, however, tend to favor the latter expression, if only for the sake of economy of expression.

That is not to say the use of "get" is ungrammatical; rather, it is simply not needed. Assuming Felicia was instructed to perform a specific task of stacking the firewood, which of the following two requests is more economical?

  • "Your task today is to stack all the firewood." Or,

  • "Your task today is to get all the firewood stacked."

One of Shakespeare's most memorable lines is "Brevity is the soul of wit." In other words, succinctness could be a mark of intelligence, not only in wit, but also in economy of expression in general. Here is some food for thought for you, taken from the website "No Sweat Shakespeare."

‘Brevity is the soul of wit’ is a Shakespeare quote that has become one of his most enduring idioms. It is spoken by Polonius, in act 2, scene 2 of Hamlet.

In modern times we talk about someone as being witty, and by that we mean a person who uses language to say something funny or amusing. But we also say things like, ‘she has her wits about her,’ which means that she’s pretty bright, and although we are not allowed to say ‘half-witted’ about anyone, people still use the term. In those senses we get to what the word actually means, which is about how brainy one is and how one uses language as a reflection of that.

‘Brevity’ is the soul of wit’ means that one can say a lot more by using the minimum of language to convey something. In other words, being brief is the essence of intelligence.

My grandfather used to say, "The more you say, the less the better." His quaint--and deliberately ungrammatical--expression is often true. With fewer words, the danger of being misunderstood is sometimes lessened.

  • That is true with one exception: get all that firewood stacked could refer to getting someone else to do it.
    – Lambie
    Jul 23, 2022 at 17:45
  • @Lambie: Good point. Don Jul 29, 2022 at 1:19

There is a significant difference between these two expressions:

  • Stack all the firewood emphasizes the process.

  • Get all the firewood stacked emphasizes the end state.

Taken in isolation, the two expressions are closely related, since the commonly-understood way of bringing objects to the state of being stacked is to stack them.

In a conversation, however, the emphasis on process versus action can tell us something about the speaker’s state of mind, along with their attitude towards Felicia and the need to get the firewood stacked.

  • 'Get all the firewood stacked emphasizes the end state' I don't understand what you mean by 'the end state' could you simplify the point please? Jul 23, 2022 at 15:41
  • 1
    Firewood implies a collection of wood pieces suitable for burning in a stove, fireplace, etc. Firewood scattered on the ground after delivery (or initial chopping) is in a different state than firewood neatly stacked in a pile.
    – user205876
    Jul 23, 2022 at 15:50
  • 'Stack all the firewood emphasizes the process' I don't understand what you mean by 'the process' here also. Please simplify the point Jul 23, 2022 at 16:25
  • 1
    The action of stacking wood is a process. It takes the wood from a loosely arranged and “unstacked” state to an orderly arrangement where one row of wood pieces is laid on top of another, several rows deep. Similarly, chopping wood is a process. Delivering wood is a process.
    – user205876
    Jul 23, 2022 at 19:00
  • Ok, then how do you know that Stack all the firewood is a process and Get all the firewood stacked is an end state? Could you kindly explain it? Jul 24, 2022 at 7:15

1."Take a rest, Felicia, you don't need to get all the firewood stacked today."

2."Take a rest, Felicia, you don't need to stack all the firewood today."

They can mean the same thing: to get something done (accomplish a task) or do something.

HOWEVER: 1) can mean to have someone else do the work and 2) cannot.

"I got the neighbor's son to stack my firewood".

Look at this now: "I didn't get all my firewood stacked".

Two meanings and only the context rules here:

  1. I didn't have all the firewood stacked by someone else. Only part of it.
  2. I didn't accomplish the task of stacking it all myself.
  • This answer makes clear that context of the clauses in question is critical to an answer to the question. It makes it clear that it is Felicia who is (personally) doing the stacking and that it is from this that she needs to take the rest. You could construct a slightly different context in which Felicia is energetically beating her slaves to get THEM to stack the wood, so she needn't tire herself out getting them to stack by the deadline. But this is not the obvious interpretation. So yes: it makes negligible difference.
    – Tuffy
    Jul 23, 2022 at 18:48
  • @Tuffy What you say is not entirely true. Felicia, poor dear, may have been doing many things over the course of day or time referred to. So, it really doesn't change what I said.
    – Lambie
    Jul 23, 2022 at 18:50
  • no it doesn't. Nevertheless, I think that the issue of context dependency was worth mentioning.
    – Tuffy
    Aug 4, 2022 at 22:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.