What is the difference in meaning between "have a seat" and "get a seat" in the following sentence

:: source : Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by JUDITH VIORST

In the car pool Mrs. Gibson let Becky have a seat by the window. Audrey and Elliott got seats by the window too.


What is the difference in meaning between "Mrs. Gibson let Becky have a seat by the window" and "Mrs. Gibson let Becky get a seat by the window" ?

What is the difference in meaning between "Audrey and Elliott got seats by the window" and "Audrey and Elliott had seats by the window"

  • Think of the second sentence as meaning: Audrey and Elliott were lucky enough to get seats by the window, too.
    – J.R.
    Nov 28, 2017 at 10:43

1 Answer 1


"Have a seat" is generally either an offer (e.g. "Please, have a seat") or direction/instruction (e.g. "You're late; have a seat"; "Take a seat" is interchangeable for either example.

"He/she had a seat" isn't ordinarily the same as using got or took - it's more typical for had to be used in a more complex phrase, like "He/she had [a seat] reserved ahead of time", or for something that is consumed, like "He/she had a drink."

  • The strangeness would be even more pronounced with "They had seats [by the window]" - without additional context, this implies that at some point, they were in possession of said seats, or that they are/were already seated in those seats, but isn't technically stating the act of acquiring the seats;
    • whereas "He/she took a seat"/"They took seats" is quite normal, and is completely interchangeable with "He/she got a seat"/"They got seats" (with or without specifying the location of the seats). Both of these clearly convey the act of acquiring, but had normally refers to an acquisition that has already occurred.

Additionally, "Get seats" or "Get a seat" would be most appropriate to a request/direction given by Person A to Person(s) B(+) in a situation where

  • seats are not assigned, i.e. 'general admission' or 'first-come-first-served';

  • Person B will be arriving sooner than Person A

Hence, "Quickly, go get seats while I park the car" or "Would you mind getting us some seats near the aisle?" (Save and grab are also frequently used in this context.)

  • 1
    what is the meaning of "said" in the sentnence, "they were in possession of said seats" ? does it mean "they were in possession of seats that is said" ?
    – user22046
    Nov 28, 2017 at 9:33
  • 1
    That use of "said" is a synonym for "aforementioned" :) Sorry - I would have been clearer if I had typed "the seats in question" or "the seats that we're talking about".
    – N. Presley
    Nov 28, 2017 at 12:00

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