Typically, we say,

I got something

I also realize that some software like to use

fetch a update

When someone got an error, they like to say

obtain an error

So, My questions is what is the difference between those words? When should I use this one instead of another?

  • 1
    Check in a good dictionary and let us know what you found.
    – Kris
    Apr 25, 2018 at 10:27
  • No, obtain is get but not "obtain an error". In any case, one has to distinguish technical usage from regular usage. For example, GET and FETCH are both used in internet programming.
    – Lambie
    Mar 15, 2021 at 15:16

1 Answer 1


They all mean roughly the same thing, but are generally used in different contexts as they have slightly different meanings.

Get is the one that could be used most generally, and any time you go from not having something to having it, you could say you 'got' it.

I got an A in my report. Can you go to the shop and get me some cereal?

Obtain is a little more formal, but could still be used in those contexts. I think if the object in question was a proper noun, obtain might sound a little unusual outside of business contexts:

I obtained a box of cereal at the shops this morning.

It still works, but it sounds a bit odd. Obtaining an A in a report, however, sounds reasonable.

Fetch isn't really the same as the others, as it usually refers to going to get something specific and then taking it somewhere.

Could you fetch me some cereal?

It has the act of bringing it back to the requester built in to the word. In programming contexts, it's a little different, but I don't know too much about that.

  • Well, clearly visible example. Good job
    – Frank AK
    Apr 25, 2018 at 10:22
  • I can use "get" in example 3. "Can you get me some cereal?" it's perfectly OK. I think you really need to expand on the use of "fetch" in computer programming, especially as we have Stack Overflow as our neighbours.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 25, 2018 at 10:56
  • I don't know very much about programming and only mentioned it because it was in the question. I agree that get could be used in that third example, but there aren't that many situations when it couldn't be used. I think fetch is usually more polite when requesting that somebody brings you something: "fetch me that book" is a request, whereas "get me that book" sounds like an order.
    – joseph
    Apr 25, 2018 at 11:24
  • Obtained can also be used to simply mean that you came into possession of something—not necessarily that you got it yourself. Somebody else could have got it for you. Or it could have appeared inexplicably. Apr 26, 2018 at 7:04
  • Isn't "a box of cereal" in the second example a common noun, not a proper? I defy to suggest joseph meant "to obtain" isn't used with concrete nouns so much as with abstract ones (a box of cereal is a noun refers to a concrete object, whereas words like "an idea", "advance", etc. are abstract nouns) Feb 26, 2021 at 7:14

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