“Get on your hands and knees.” –– learningyoga.com

I’m wondering if get above is a linking verb (OLAD #11) or an intransitive verb (# 18) that takes locative adverb. I guess if the prepositional phrase, on your hands and knees, denotes a predicative complement, it would be #11; denoting the direction of verb get, it would be OALD #18. Which one do I have to take? Is there any other view that I’ve missed?

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    I believe that it's #11 as you said. #18 requires moving from one position (place) to another. Jan 30, 2014 at 9:47
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    I think I prefer 18. To me the word "get" has the same definition in "get on your hands and knees" and "get on the floor" and a closely related meaning to "get thee to a nunnery," where the latter two clearly fall under 18.
    – hunter
    Jan 30, 2014 at 10:03
  • @DamkerngT. I myself was almost drawn to #11, but I've not found the case in dictionaries or grammar books. So I'm turning "on" to other side: on "used to show direction"OALD, on.10
    – Listenever
    Jan 30, 2014 at 10:29
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    I think it might be "get" #18, but it should be "on" #2 more than #10. Also, I might have to refresh my understanding of the term "linking verb", because different dictionaries seem to use it differently. For example, Oxford doesn't say that the verb be in She's from Italy and The town is three miles away is a linking verb; but Macmillan says that it is in Baltimore is not far from Washington and Tom's from a small town in Canada. Jan 30, 2014 at 11:42

2 Answers 2


OALD # 18 has the definition to move. - You could also say to get + where-to indication can mean go/come. - Get on your hands and knees means Get down/go down on your hands and knees, simply Kneel down.


I see no very great difference between these two definitions:

11. to reach a particular state or condition; to make somebody/something/yourself reach a particular state or condition

18. to move to or from a particular place or in a particular direction, sometimes with difficulty; to make somebody/something do this

Definition 18 is just a special case of Definition 11 in which the “particular state or condition” which is achieved is location at or movement towards a particular place. The case you ask about, however, involves a posture rather than a place: Get on your hands and knees may be paraphrased “make yourself reach the condition of being on your hands and knees”.

It might very well be argued that Definition 11 is today the fundamental meaning of get: this sense underlies even the original sense of “obtain”, which may be paraphrased as “to reach or arrive at the state of possession of”. Definition 11 is remarkable in its generality, contemplating both non-agentive and agentive/causative uses.

Characterizing this as a linking verb is dubious to my mind. It is true that get ascribes the state defined by its complement to its subject; but get differs from the copula be in expressing not merely a state but a change of state. I’m not clear what useful purpose is served by grouping be with verbs like get and become.

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