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‘Get’ is a very common word in English with many different meanings. As a result, it is a very useful word, however, it is generally not accepted in academic writing. Why not? Well, ‘get’ is quite general, whereas all the other words (synonyms) are more specific. As academic writing should be precise, it is important to choose a verb which communicates your specific meaning instead of using ‘get’.

Look at the following sentence:

According to Jones (2003), students get a lot of knowledge from the direct teaching method.

Which of the following words can replace ‘get’ in the sentence above?

A) learn    B) acquire   C) receive    D) develop

All these options have different meanings (all are possible answers as they are all synonyms of ‘get’, but b sounds most natural). So, we can see that ‘get’ is not specific enough to communicate the writer’s exact meaning. One way to improve your academic writing if you tend to use ‘get’ is to use a thesaurus (dictionary of synonyms) to find an alternative word. But make sure you check the meaning matches what you want to communicate. Some examples of synonyms of ‘get’ are: receive, find, obtain, acquire, access, attain, become, reach, manage.

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