There is a sentence:

"It only takes five minutes to dress in the morning."

If I say instead,

"It only takes five minutes to get dressed in the morning."

Is there any difference?

Similarly, if I say

"I want to take a shower and get changed." -or-
"I want to take a shower and change."

Is there any difference?

If there is any difference, even slightly, what is it?

  • 1
    I found this interesting note in Macmillan Dictionary, dress (v.) "to put on clothes. This verb is common in writing, but when you are speaking it is more usual to say that you get dressed". May 18, 2014 at 1:56
  • Also, marry and get married. May 24, 2014 at 15:08

3 Answers 3


In normal, conversational speech (NY, USA), you wouldn't ever just 'dress'. Most likely you would 'get dressed' in the morning. Exceptions would include common phrases that use the passive tone, "dress(ed) for the occasion", or "dress(ed) for success" or "Dress(ed) up/down".

As for "change/get changed", they seem to be completely interchangeable, except that "get changed" seems to be slightly more intransitive, meaning that it can stand alone, and usually sounds more awkward when it takes an object.

For example, I wouldn't say that I'd "get changed into" something; rather I'd "change into something more comfortable..."

Another example could be this exchange of two friends, one of whom who just finished working out at the gym...

A. "I'm starving! Let's get a burger."

B. "Ooh! That sounds wonderful! [looking down] Let me get (dressed/changed), and I'll meet you here in 5."

  • Interesting. Would you dress yourself (say, if you're a parent saying it to a child, for instance)? Would it be unusual to hear it, or is it just uncommon? (That is, if someone said it, would you think it's was odd as in "wrong", or odd as in "rarely said"?)
    – jimsug
    May 18, 2014 at 5:31
  • 1
    @jimsug To me, it sounds odd as in "Yeah, sounds grammatical, but no native speaker would ever say that."
    – Anubhav C
    May 18, 2014 at 10:14
  • There's nothing strange about a parent asking a child (of appropriate age) to "dress yourself". There are probably more common ways, such as "put your clothes on yourself" and "get dressed [by] yourself" (i.e., alone as well as unaided) Mar 20, 2015 at 11:27

JasonS is right about the intransitive aspect of 'get changed/get dressed'. But there is another dimension as well. 'Get changed/get dressed' has a perfective aspect (describing action towards a completed state) that change/dress does not always have. This would be similar to the difference between an object 'getting bent' (i.e., entering a semi-permanent new shape) or 'bending' (changing shape, but possibly returning on its own to its original shape)

For this reason,

My daughter Jessica dresses herself = My daughter Jessica knows how to put on her clothes with some degree of success (partial or complete)

My daughter Jessica gets dressed by herself = My daughter Jessica can put on an entire outfit by herself

  • And a somewhat related nuance: "Dress" or "change" refers to the activity of changing attire. After completing the activity, the person will be dressed or changed. In "get dressed" or "get changed", "get" means "become", so these terms imply the activity but refer to the result. In actual usage, people aren't likely to think about that distinction, though. An exception would be a situation where two people are running late and one is talking to the other who spends forever on the process of getting dressed. They would use "get dressed" to focus on the goal of achieving the result.
    – fixer1234
    Apr 1, 2017 at 17:49

In modern usage, there is absolutely no difference between dress and get dressed or change and get changed.

I would expect that in times past, get dressed or get changed would have implied that you had someone to assist you in those activities, while dress and change would have implied that you will be performing those activities without help; but that's strictly conjecture on my part.

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