To Get

The verb “to get” is another verb that is very hard for English speakers to say in Spanish. Like the verb “to become”, from the previous lesson, there are many different ways to say “to get” in Spanish according to what the speaker wants to convey. There is not a blanket translation of this verb, and for this reason it causes a lot of errors for students learning the language.

As with most aspects of learning a second language, the best way to learn what situations call for what specific words is to listen to native speakers speak or to read in Spanish. That being said, I believe that learning the basic language rules and patterns is an important step, especially when you don’t have the luxury of unlimited hours to practice with a native speaker. So this lesson presents many common Spanish verbs that convey the idea of “to get” and it explains when to use which verb. I think the average English speaker would be surprised by how many different ways “to get” can be translated in Spanish. Hopefully this lesson will set you in the right direction on expressing this verb correctly in Spanish.
Conseguir = To get (as in obtain or achieve).
“Conseguir” is used to express getting or obtaining a goal or an objective through effort. A person can “get a job” or “get his boss fired”. A team could “get a victory”. The verb “conseguir” could be used to express all of these situations. See the examples below.
  Él consiguió el trabajo que buscaba. He got the job she was  looking for.
Los niños consiguen permiso para jugar cuando se quejan mucho.
The kids get permission to play when they complain a lot.
Conseguí que mi hermano devolviera el reloj.
I got my brother to return the watch.
Agarrrar = To get (as in take, grab or catch)
“Agarrar” can be used to express “to get” in a number of ways. Some examples of how it could be translated as the English verb “to get” are: to get a piece of cake, to get the book, to get the thief, to get/catch the ball, to get a cold and to get someone by the arm.
Mi hermano menor agarró la pelota que yo tiré.
My little brother got/caught the ball that I threw.
Voy a agarrar una cerveza de la refrigeradora.
I’m going to get a beer from the refrigerator.
Agárrame una pala del garaje antes de regresar por favor.
Get me a shovel from the garage before coming back please.
Ella agarró la moneda con los dedos. She got the coin with her fingers.
En mi trabajo como policía agarré al criminal en la calle Guadalupe. =
In my job as a policeman I got the criminal on Guadalupe Street.
Sacar = To get (various meanings)
1. To get as in a grade or a prize.
Mi hermano sacó una 90 en su examen de historia. My brother got a 90 on his history test.
Yo siempre sacaba buenas notas en matemáticas cuando era niño.
I always got good grades in math when I was a kid.
Saqué el premio para mejor actor del año 2005.
I got the award for best actor in 2005.
2. To get as in taking out.
El dentista no pudo sacar el diente malo de mi abuelo.
The dentist couldn’t get my grandfather’s bad tooth out.
Saca el libro azul por favor.
Get your blue book out please.
Sácame el lápiz de mi mochila para mi clase de historia.
Get out my pencil from my backpack for history class.
Saqué dos libros de la biblioteca en Austin. I got two books from the library.
3. To get as in to extract.
Los soldados intentaron sacarle información.
The soldiers tried to get information out of him.
Van a sacar petróleo de la tierra en Texas.
They are going to get oil out of the ground in Texas.
Traer = To get as in to bring or fetch.
  El mesero me trajo una botella de vino que me gusta. The waiter got me a bottle of wine that I like.
Tráeme los zapatos por favor.
Get me my shoes please.
Obtener = To get as in to obtain.
El equipo espera obtener la victoria.
The team hopes to get the victory.
Ella no obtenía los resultados que quería.
She didn’t get the results she wanted.
La compañía obtuvo los derechos necesarios para producir ese producto.
The company got the necessary rights to produce that product.
Recibir = To get as in to receive.
Mi hermano siempre recibe regales de su novia.
My brother always gets presents from his girlfriend.
Mis hermanos recibieron un mensaje importante por teléfono el otro día.
My brothers got an important message on the phone the other day.
Recibí una llamada de Ecuador ayer a las seis en la mañana.
I got a call from Ecuador at sis in the morning.
María “la guapa” recibía cartas de amor hasta el día del accidente.
Maria “the beautiful” used to get love letters until the accident.
Many words have the idea of “to get” built into them. When translating these words into English many students try to use the verbs listed above to express the “to get” part of the verb, but it is not necessary. As you see in the first example “mojarse” means “to get wet”. You would not say “agarrar mojado” to express “to get wet”, even though that would be the literal translation. The idea of “to get” is already built in. See the following examples:
Mojarse = To get wet
Me mojé en la tormenta. I got wet in the storm.
 Uno se moja cuando se nada en la piscina.
One gets wet when swimming in the pool.
Siempre me mojaba en la lluvia cuando vivía en Seattle.
I always got wet in the rain when I lived in Seattle.
Acostumbrarse = To get used to
No me acostumbraba a su acento. = I didn’t get used to his accent.
Se acostumbra al calor de Texas después de unos años.
One gets used to the heat in Texas after a few years.
Los maestros se acostumbraban a los nuevos estudiantes.
The teachers were getting used to the new students.
Subirse = To get in (a car, truck .)
Me subí en su carro nuevo.
I got into his new car.
Si te subes en el bus hay que tener un boleto.
If you get in the bus you have to have a ticket.
Nos subíamos en el tren a las seis de la mañana.
We used to get in the train at six in the morning.
Vestirse = To get dressed
Me visto antes de salir para la escuela.
I get dressed before leaving for school.
Se vestían en el baño cuando no podían regresar a la casa.
They used to get dressed when they couldn’t go back to their house.
Te vestiste para la fiesta.
You got dressed for the party.
Emborracharse = To get drunk
  Mi cuñado se emborracha cada noche. My brother in law gets drunk every night.
Ella se emborrachó en la fiesta.
She got drunk at the party.
Nos emborrachábamos cuando vivíamos en Madrid.
We used to get drunk when we lived in Madrid.
Bajarse = To get down (from a car or a high place)
Me bajé del tren cuando se detuvo.
I got out of the train when it stopped.
No te bajes del árbol si el perro te esta ladrando.
Don’t get down from the tree if the dog is parking at you.
Me bajaba de la montaña con mucho cuidado.
I used to get down the mountain being very careful.

More Exercises

  • To Get Fill in the Blanks Activity
  • The Verb To Get Matching Exercise
  • The Verb To Get Word Order Activity