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     Volume 1 Issue 12 | December 23 , 2006 |


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Learner's Club

Let's get going!

Today we would like to discuss some verbs which have different meanings in different contexts. Let's, for example, take the verb 'get'. Read the following sentences.

A. We got to the station on time.
Since you're going to the post-office, can you get me some stamps?
I'm getting bored.
I'm getting the early morning train tomorrow.
The boy's fainted! Get me some water ... quick!
Did you get my letter?
You'll be late again. Hurry up! Get going!
Got the time?
In the above sentences 'get' has been used to mean, chronologically,

to reach (the station), to buy (some stamps), becoming (bored), to catch (a train),
to bring (water), to receive (a letter), to start (immediately) and to have (the time).

So, we see that the same verb 'get' used in eight different contexts have eight different meanings. Now, let's discuss another interesting thing about the verb 'get'. You may have noticed that in our everyday conversation we would sometimes use expressions that consist of a verb and a preposition or an adverb. These are called phrasal verbs. Phrasal verbs often pose problems for our students. That's because it's often difficult to work out the meanings of the phrasal verbs from the meanings of the verb and the preposition or the adverb individually. For example, the phrasal verb 'work out' in the sentence above means 'to understand' and has nothing to do with the separate meanings of the words 'work' and 'out'.

B. Read the following sentences and notice how when we add a preposition or an adverb with the verb 'get' the meaning of it changes.

You get on a bus, and then you get off the bus.

In spite of the heavy security measures
around the palace, the burglars managed to
get in. The alarms did go off, but the
robbers got away.

Thomas got back to his office after the lunch-break.
She hasn't yet got over the loss of her ancestral house.

In the above sentences, to get in means to enter, to get away means to escape, to get back means to return and, to get over means to recover from. English has a lot of phrasal verbs, that is, verbs that are combined with prepositions or adverbs to form new verbs with new meanings.

C. Complete the sentences below with either the verb look or put combined with an appropriate preposition or adverb:

on     after     for     in     out     forward     to     up

1. My wife will be away for two days. I'll have to _________ our little son during her absence.
2. I'm __________ my friend Rana. Have you seen him anywhere?
3. Look _________! That box is going to fall on your head!
4. I've heard so much about him that I really ______________
meeting him tomorrow.
5. Ooh! I'm almost freezing! : Why don't you _________ coat then?
6. Don't forget to ____________ the lights before you leave.
7. If there's a word you don't know the meaning of, ___________ dictionary.
8. Don't be so fussy. It's really difficult to ___________ with someone like you.
9. Would you please _________ a word for Sagar to his boss? He's in trouble.
10. He felt that there was something wrong about the plan and decided to __________the matter himself.

D. Do you know a phrasal verb to replace the words in italics in the following sentences?

1. The plane left the ground and rise despite the fog.
2. He is trying to find a solution to this problem.
3. She is like her father in many ways. She has the same brown eyes,
curly hair and a husky voice like her father.
4. We had to postpone the meeting for the sudden strike.
5. Since all the hotels were full, I asked my friend if he could give me a bed for the night.

6. They decided to demolish the old two storied building
and build a modern high-rise building there.
7. You didn't believe what he said, did you? You though
the invented the whole story.
8. Operator? ... Could you please connect me to Mr. Azam?
9. He's taking the driving test again. He doesn't let go easily.
10. Stop making fun of me! What I'm saying is quite serious.

There are many words in English which have multiple meanings. There are also many words that are spelt differently but are in fact pronounced the same, for example,

        male - mail                                         stair - stare
        rain - reign                                         bored - board

Words which have different spellings and different meanings but are pronounced the same way are called Homophones. There are a lot of jokes made with homophones. Here is one such joke for you, see if you can catch the play on words.

A city girl who has never been in a village before goes to visit a farm in a remote village
for the first time. When she sees some cows grazing in the field, she's ecstatic and cries
out, “What a lovely bunch of cows!”
The farmer corrects her, “Herd of cows, Miss.”
“Of course I've heard of cows!” she replies.
“No, I mean a cow herd,” explains the farmer.
She ends the conversation by saying, “So, what do I care? I have no secret from the cow.”

Here is an exercise for you.
How many verbs can you think of to fit in the following space?

                to _________ a meeting

Hidden in this word square are 16 possible answers.

[Answers to Section D: 1. took off; 2. looking for; 3. takes after; 4. call off; 5. put me up; 6. pull down; 7. made up; 8. put me through; 9. give up; 10. laughing at]


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