In the dictionary,

get [transitive, no passive] get something to become infected with an illness; to suffer from a pain, etc.

I got this cold off (= from) you!

She gets (= often suffers from) really bad headaches.

have (also have got) have something (not used in the progressive tenses) to suffer from an illness or a disease

I've got a headache.

So, we know that if we want to express our current illness that is happening, we have to use the simple present tense with the verb "have"

So, we say "I have a cold now" but not "I am having a cold" (wrong)

But what about the verb "get"

can we say "I am getting a cold"?

The Ngram showed that people do say

  • "I have a cold" (a lot of people say this)
  • "I get a cold" (some people say this)
  • "I am getting a cold" (few people say this)
  • "I am having a cold" (no data found, maybe no one says this)

Can we use "continuous tenses" with the verb "get" when expressing illness?

Also, 1 more question, does the rule apply to other physical conditions such as hiccup, etc

For example, which of the following are correct when we want to express that a person is experiencing hiccups (it is happening now):

  • "I have hiccups"
  • "I get hiccups"
  • "I am getting hiccups"
  • "I am having hiccups"

1 Answer 1


To me, "I am getting a cold" would mean "I have symptoms that make me think a cold is starting".

Get in this context means catch a cold or start an attack of hiccups. You might say "I get hiccups when I eat too fast", but you would not use get while you are currently having hiccups.

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