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by Liz Walter
One way to improve your English is to find more interesting vocabulary to use instead of very common words. This post looks at five verbs you can use instead of ‘get’. Regular readers of my posts will know that I often talk about collocation, or words that commonly go together. I’ll be focusing on this particularly today because although the words I’m covering are basically synonyms, some of them tend to collocate strongly with particular groups of nouns. Note that they are all a little more formal than ‘get’ but still commonly used, especially in writing.
The first verb I’m going to look at is obtain. This is used when a deliberate effort is made, for example by looking for or asking for something or working in order to produce something. Typical collocations are information, consent, permission, document, and result. We often use adverbs with this verb in order to show how things are obtained:
I obtained permission to use the images on my website.
The documents were obtained illegally.
The verb secure also implies an effort to make sure you get something. We often use it in contexts connected with business, law, or politics. It collocates strongly with nouns such as victory, loan, funding, deal, contract, nomination, release, and conviction:
A third goal secured the team’s victory.
Evidence from witnesses helped secure her conviction.
In general use, the verb acquire implies less deliberate effort than the previous two verbs. It collocates with words such as information, knowledge, skill, experience, and reputation. However, it is also used in business and legal contexts with collocations such as asset, land, shares, company, and stake. In this sense, it is very much deliberate and usually involves paying money to get something:
That job helped me acquire some IT skills.
They have recently acquired shares in a biotech company.
She fell down the steps and sustained two broken ribs.
The building sustained serious damage in the blast.
In contrast, derive tends to collocate with positive words such as satisfaction, pleasure, benefit, strength, power, income and revenue. It is also used to talk about things that are made from something:
He derives a lot of satisfaction from his work with children.
These substances are derived from natural ingredients.
There are of course many more synonyms of the word ‘get’, but I hope these five will cover a lot of useful contexts and help to make your English sound more impressive.