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Get to vs. Going to

Express opportunity vs. intent

Little girl dressed as a fairy
 

Get to do something vs. (Be) Going to do something

GET TO

Get [to+verb] expresses the speaker's opinion about an activity.  "I'm lucky. I have a special opportunity." Get before an infinitive clause is more commonly used in speech. It may also occur in negative situations such as sarcasm:  "Oh, joy! We get to sit next to a crying infant on a ten-hour flight."

HAVE A SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY

Today, I get to go to a birthday party next door.  (lucky situation)

 

 

We get to dress up as our favorite characters.  (are privileged to) 

I get to wear my sister's blouse.  (have special permission) 

My sister doesn't get to attend because she has a soccer game today. (is not fortunate enough to) 

BE GOING TO

(Be) going [to+verb] expresses an activity or plan already in thought or motion, or intentions related to the present time frame (a person's current reality.) "This is about to happen. I can almost see it happening." Be going before an infinitive clause is more commonly used in speech.  

HAVE INTENT OR PLAN

I am going to go¹ to my neighbor's birthday party.  (intent)

I am going to my neighbor's birthday party(intent + move toward)

I am going next door to celebrate his birthday(intent + purpose)

I am going to dress up as my favorite character—a fairy. (intent)

I am going to wear my sister's blouse. (intent)

My sister isn't going to attend because she has a soccer game today. (neg. intent)

 

*not used / ~borderline usage

¹going to go / going to come – some speakers tend to avoid this pairing of verbs expressing direction.

*Today, I am getting to my neighbor's birthday party.  (Here, get does not express movement toward.)

Also see Future Intent vs. Purpose"Get" Passives, Pop-Q "Get to".

 

 

 

 

Get To

Additional Meanings

Kids outside at a garden party
 

Get to

VARIANT MEANING EXAMPLES

GET TO (arrive at, reach)

We'll get to the house around noon.   [verb + PP (specified preposition) ]

GET TO (do so immediately)

Get to work!   Get home!  Get to bed!    Get yourself to a doctor!  Get to it!   [verb + PP (specified preposition) ]

GET TO (read to a page location)

When you get to the end of chapter three, close the book.  [verb + PP (specified preposition) ]

GET TO (come to my turn when waiting in line)

The doctor had so many patients in the waiting room that it took an hour to get to me.  [verb + PP (specified preposition) ]

HAS/HAVE GOT (must)

You have got to see this funny costume.  [modal expression]

GET TO YOU  (annoy)

Don't let them get to you with their joking around. (idiom with you, him, her, them, etc.)

GET TO (address, talk about)

I'll get to the point (your question, the matter) in a minute after I explain something first. (idiom)

GET TO (be privileged or fortunate)

We get to go home early today! (idiom)

BE GETTING TO/AT SOMETHING (imply)

Why are you saying this? I don't understand what you are getting to / getting at. (imply; move a verbal exchange toward a desired or undesired accusation or conclusion)

I'LL GET BACK TO YOU (respond)

I don't know the answer right now, but I'll get back to you soon.(idiom)

IT'S GETTING TO BE A PROBLEM  (becoming)

Their phone calls are getting to be a problem.    "He is getting to be a pain in the ass." (idiom)

Also see Verbs followed by Specified Prepositions.

(Swan 223.6)

 

 

 

 

(Be) Going To

Happy Boy Smiling in a Tiger Costume
 

Going to

VARIANT MEANING EXAMPLES

GO (TO) (move–nonprogressive)

They are going to the party. 

BE GOING [LOCATION] TO  (move–progressive form)

They are going nextdoor to have fun.  verb "move" + noun + infinitive cls "purpose" 

BE GOING (TO)  (intend)

They are going to have fun. 

Also see Future Intent vs. Purpose.

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

Lucky clover
 

Error and Solution

ERROR

~We have gotten to leave early for the past 10 weeks. 

(This expression sounds awkward in present perfect.)

     

~We are getting to the party before everyone else. verb use error

We are going to the party.   "going to" move to a location or intent to do so

We are getting to the party at noon. "get to" reach a destination (non-progressive, a point in time)

SOLUTION

We've been lucky enough to leave early for the past 10 weeks.

We've been able to leave early for the past 10 weeks.

We've had special permission to leave early for the past 10 weeks.

We will get to the party before everyone else.(reach destination; non-prog.)

We will be getting to the party before everyone else. (prediction)

We are going to arrive at the party before everyone else. (intent)

 

*not used / ~borderline usage

Solution - lightbulbPop-Q Accept

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Text and Images

Text

Images

 

 

Practice

Special Occasion

Boy eating icecream
 

Complete the sentence with an expression with get or going.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or "Check 1-11" button at the bottom.

 

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