Someone is going out of town for a week. Her package is going to arrive in two days. Thus, she asks here neighbor to get it for her. Is "collect" equally likely to be used in this context?

Can you collect my package for me?

Can you get my package for me?

What's more likely to be used?

2 Answers 2


The OED lists as meaning 1e. of "collect": " To ‘pick up’ from a place of deposit; to call for (a person or thing). colloquial (originally U.S.)".

In my experience this meaning is not colloquial; it would be my normal choice for the context, if I were talking to somebody I did not know well.

Get is somewhat colloquial, and has a more general meaning. I would use it here with people I know well.

  • Agree this is a better answer. Deleting mine
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 13:46

Whether to use "get" or "collect" is a matter of depth of meaning. Although both are interchangeable in terms of retrieval, to "collect" may also convey to gather and perhaps hold onto for a time.

Get: to go somewhere and bring back someone or something

Collect: 1. [mainly UK] to go to a place and bring someone or something away from it

  1. to bring something together from different places or over a period of time

Since the example asks that something be picked up and kept for a week while the person asking for this favor is away, "collect" might be the deeper meaning of the request. However, someone knowing that the person asking will be away will likely assume that holding onto the package is involved. In this interpretation, "get" also implies gathering and holding.

As to your question of common usage, in the U.S.--"get" and in the U.K.--"collect".

  • I wondered, from Kevin's answer (now deleted) whether this use of "collect" might be particularly British; and was surprised to see that the OED does not mark it so, and in fact marks it as "originally US". However, it also marks it as "colloquial", which I don't agree with. The OED's entry has not been updated for the 3rd edition; and as I read the history, I think it was reproduced without update in the 2nd (1989), in which case it is from 1891,
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 13:52
  • 1
    I cannot expound on OED, but in the Cambridge dictionary, one definition I quoted was specified as mainly British (UK)--dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/collect
    – Katherine
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 13:59
  • So which one do you like better? (The person she asked to keep the parcel until she comes back lives next door, and the parcel was supposed to be delivered at her doorstep. The neighbor doesn't actually have to go anywhere. So is "collect" unlikely to be used in AE?) Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 17:43
  • 1
    In an informal conversation such as one neighbor to another, I would use "get". I consider "collect" a more formal way to say almost the same thing, but either would be correct.
    – Katherine
    Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 0:41

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