In movie Avatar the main actor said to the female doctor "I got this". I have looked it up on UrbanEnglish.com. It means "I have got this controlled".

Meanwhile, in movie The Pacific Rim the main actor said to the main actress "Let's get this son of a b**ch". I guess this has a different meaning here.

In addition, in movie Sin City Lucille said to her girlfriend "I'll get it, Claire. It's gotta be Marv."

And Bruce Willis said to himself in a cell "You got me, Roark. You beat me."

What is the usage of get for these examples above?

2 Answers 2


The word get is one of the toughest words to master, because it is a very simple word. (Yes, most difficult words are usually easy to understand. We can just look them up in dictionaries and it's done.)

I believe that many grammar books can help you to distinguish the main senses between get, have, and (have) got. So instead of explaining your sentences grammatically, I opted to hunt down the definitions in dictionaries. And as you will see, the number of entries for the definitions of get is massive, and it still tangles with have or (have) got too.

  • (By the way, please be warned that generally trying to restrict each usage of a word to one single definition in a dictionary is not a good idea. The meanings usually are overlapped, and it's possible that the speaker might convey multiple senses of the words or phrases at the same time.)

Let's discuss them one by one.

  1. In the movie Avatar, the main actor said to the female doctor "I got this."

    As you said, this means I have got this controlled or I'll handle it. Here is the closest definitions I found in Macmillan Dictionary.

    3 [transitive] [never passive] to do something, or to have it done for you
        get something done: You need to get your hair cut.
        I should be able to get the first chapter finished by tonight.
        They tried to get Marly sent to prison.

  2. In The Pacific Rim, the main actor said to the main actress "Let's get this son of a b--ch."

    This means the actor was going to get that actress. Depending on the context (I have never seen that movie), he was discussing with the actress to bring that SOB guy (to some place), or to attack him, to punish him, or even to kill him. This has a mixed sense of the main sense and the attack/punish sense.

    1 [transitive] [never passive] to obtain, receive, or be given something
        b. to go and bring something back from somewhere else

    9 [transitive] [never passive] informal to kill someone
        It was cancer that got him in the end.

        a. to attack someone
            He's threatened to get me if he ever catches me alone.

        b. to catch or punish someone
            The police need to get the person who did this.
            out to get someone (=determined to harm or punish someone):
            The way he acts, it's like he's out to get me.

  3. In Sin City, Lucille said to her girlfriend "I'll get it, Claire. It's gotta be Marv."

    I believe that in the scene there was someone either calling them on the phone or knocking on the door. Saying "I'll get it" means that she would pick up the call or go open the door.

    10 [transitive] [never passive] spoken to answer the door or telephone
         It's OK, I'll get it.

    Saying "It's gotta be Marv" means that Lucille was certain that the person at the door would have been Marv. (Also note that it is a have got usage, and gotta means the same thing as got to.)

    19 have or have got [intransitive] [never progressive] used for showing that you are certain that something happens or is true, or for showing that you hope very much that it happens or is true
        Things have to get better – they can't get any worse.
        He's just got to come, or I'll die!

    a way of writing 'got to' that shows how it sounds in informal conversation
    He's gotta decide now.

  4. Still in Sin City, Bruce Willis said to himself in a cell, "You got me, Roark. You beat me."

    This one could convey multiple senses at the same time, in my opinion, depending on how Bruce Willis said it. (I've already forgotten how he said it.) The line gave me a mixed feeling of the sense of being defeated, baffled, and being irritated at the same time. I choose this block of definitions from another dictionary, Oxford dictionary, which I think cover all these feelings.

     6. [with object] catch or apprehend (someone):
         'the police have got him'
     6.1 strike or wound (someone) with a blow or missile:
           'you got me in the eye!'
     6.2 • informal punish, injure, or kill (someone), especially as retribution:
           'I’ll get you for this!'
     6.3 (get it) • informal be punished, injured, or killed:
           'wait until dad comes home, then you’ll get it!'
     6.4 (get mine, his, etc.) • informal be appropriately punished or rewarded:
           'I’ll get mine, you’ll get yours, we’ll all get wealthy'
     6.5 • informal annoy (someone) greatly:
           'cleaning the same things all the time, that’s what gets me'
     6.6 baffle (someone):
           'she had got me there: I could not answer'

  • 1
    You're on the right track; but in your 2. the actor is not planning to 'get' the actress; he is inviting her to collaborate with him in 'getting' the SOB. And I suspect that in 1. "I got" is a heavily elided "I've got" (note that otherwise it's a past tense form), meaning "I have this, I'm taking it as my task", with the implication "I have it under control, I can handle it". Feb 21, 2014 at 16:48
  • Ahh... a huge amount of text copy-and-pasted from dictionaries confused me indeed. Thank you very much. Feb 21, 2014 at 16:52

Interesting -- I had never thought about the many ways we use this. In each case I think that even though it's slang, and even though you're right to isolate them as a little different from each other, the slang is a metaphorical meaning that follows logically from the usual meaning of "get" as obtaining or having something.

In the first quotation, you have it correct: "I got this" means "I have the situation controlled [or more commonly, we would say "under control"]." You should NOT think of this as being short for "I [have] got this [under control.]" Rather, you should think of it as a metaphor: i OWN this (situation.) It is in my hands. I can take care of it. Relax. I got this.

In the second quotation, "get" literally means: catch (in the sense of catching a criminal, not in the sense of catching a ball, although those two senses are also related by metaphor). There is a (presumably, I haven't seen the movie) badguy. The goodguys are trying to "get" him and obtain him, bring him under control.

In the third quotation, it's tough to tell without context, but I think that Lucille is trying to answer a question. When she says "I'll get it" she means, "let me just think a little longer, and then I'll have the answer." (So again, "get" means "have." Then when she says "it's gotta be Marv," she means "I am confident that it is Marv based on other things that I know.")

Finally, in the fourth quotation, it sounds like "get" means "defeat." This is not so different from the second meaning; e.g., if you are playing hide and seek, you might say "I'm gonna get you!" instead of "I'm gonna catch you!"

  • 1
    OP is asking what the word means, not how to conjugate it
    – hunter
    Feb 21, 2014 at 16:02
  • 1
    @SpYk3HH - You can trust me that the word get is one of the most difficult things to understand in English for most English language learners. I know that it's a trivial matter for native speakers, but it's not for us learners. Feb 21, 2014 at 16:06
  • @hunter I think you pretty much conveyed all the meanings. I didn't see the movie, but the dialog "I'll get it, Claire. It's gotta be Marv." strikes me as a quick one-two. Like someone calling on the phone or ringing a doorbell. "I'll [answer the phone | go to the door]. It has got to be (must be) Marv [calling | ringing doorbell]." Feb 21, 2014 at 17:15
  • @SpYk3HH Meta discussion belongs on meta. Feel free to start a meta thread if you really want to discuss the chicken-and-egg problem faced by language learners and how it applies to the answers on this site.
    – user230
    Feb 21, 2014 at 22:52

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