"Got" Has Got Me Seeing Red (pen)

One of the things I can remember clearly from a high school English teacher was that the word ‘got’ was colloquial, slang of sorts, and was actually not a real ‘part of speech’.

Somewhere along the way, students stopped diagramming sentences, thus forgetting to learn parts of speech, and the word ‘got’ became misused.

I won’t argue with those of you who claim that if it’s in a dictionary, it’s a real word. “Ain’t” is in the dictionary too, but I bet you wouldn’t put it on your doctoral dissertation, now would you?

There are, in quality fiction writing, only two places where the word ‘got’ can be used correctly. In nonfiction writing, there is only one place where the word ‘got’ can be used correctly.

“Got” in Fiction Writing:

When writing fiction, the only two times it’s appropriate to use ‘got’ as a word is in your character’s dialogue or in a first person narrative, where the narrator is a character in the story telling the story to the reader through their eyes.

Otherwise, kill the ‘gots’.

“Got” in Nonfiction Writing:

The only time it’s appropriate to use ‘got’ in nonfiction writing is when you are directly quoting something someone else has spoken or written.

So when you see something like this: He got to the store on time.

You would rewrite it to: He arrived at the store on time. He made it to the store on time. He managed to get to the store on time.

ANYTHING except ‘got’.

The one I see the most frequently is this: He got out of the car. She got out of the boat.

Sorry, won’t work.

Try rewriting like this: He stepped out of the car. He exited the car. She stepped up on the ladder to get out of the boat.

Something, ANYTHING except ‘got’.

‘got’ and ‘as’ are lazy, lazy writing styles, and good, quality writers will avoid their use when real words that have clear-cut parts of speech are available that will likely paint better word pictures for your readers anyway.

Got it?

Love and stuff,

PS: Read the one about ‘AS’ too.