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I am wondering whether it's natural to say "how did you get there" in the following context:

John: You speak excellent English. How did you get there? Mary: I study English five hours a day, seven days a week.

If it cannot be used here, is there any context in which it can be metaphorically interpreted?

I'd appreciate your help.

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    Your example doesn't really work because there's no easy or obvious way to "metaphorically re-map" the spatial significance of where to something like "competence in spoken English". It would (just about) work if John had said Your teacher says you're the best in the class at spoken English, because we can easily "visualise" the best in the class as equivalent to at the top of the class, which thereby introduces a credible "metaphoric location" that can be referenced by there. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 27 '17 at 14:05
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    It's almost natural. "How did you get to the point where you were able to speak without hesitation and weren't searching for words"? -- I got there with lots of practice." In other words, there is far more likely to occur in a reply to a statement or question which has already established the where. I think FumbleFingers and I are saying much the same thing here. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 27 '17 at 21:01
  • In terms of how such a phrase could be used, a thought process is something that would work - for instance, I was interested in your conclusion that the political situation in Iraq may be indirectly responsible for a significant deterioration of Mexican/American relations but was curious how did you get there? or I noticed that you described John Lennon as an anti-Shaman but was curious how did you get there? Of course it also works for location - I notice you're a native Kenyan now living in Argentina and was wondering how did you get there? – Brillig Jun 29 '17 at 18:42
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Actually, I wouldn't use this expression in this context. Although it's not wrong, it's not very natural and common.

You can use a variety of metaphorical expressions MORE closely related to your context than "how did you get there?" Expressions like:

What's the story of your success?

  • She speaks excellent English doesn't imply that she considers it a success. – holydragon Sep 7 '18 at 2:54
  • @holydragon Ok, she does not consider it a success, but you, on the other hand, treat it as some kind of success, since you are delivering compliments to her. It is NOT up to her to consider success her excellent ability to speak English, it's up to the other speaker. – AmirhoseinRiazi Sep 21 '18 at 20:46

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