When you get to be 89, you get to say what you want.


What does "get to be 89","get to say" mean in the above context? I guess it means "become", but I am not sure. and I need some simple examples in plain English of using "get to ".

thank you.

  • 2
    Welcome to ELL, Babythinker. We expect people to do a little research before asking a question: in this case, you could look up get to in a good dictionary, for example this one: dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/get-to. Note that the correct definition only appears in the American English section of the page. If your research doesn't help, please edit your question to include details of your research and explain in more detail what you don't understand.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 14:03

3 Answers 3


Your guess about "get to be" = "become" is correct for the first use of "get" in that sentence. This use is shown here:
Cambridge dictionary "get" B1

[ + to infinitive ] How did you get to be a belly dancer?

The second use, "get to do" means "be allowed to do", as discussed here:
Stack Exchange ELU "get to do"
(There are several examples at that link.)

So, the meaning of your sentence is "When one becomes 89 years old, one is allowed to say what they want."
Although the meanings of the two "get" phrases are different, their use in the same sentence gives it a nice symmetry.


"Get to do" = be allowed/permitted to do ; have the opportunity/permission to do.

"Get to be" = "to begin to be ; become."

"When you get to be 89, you get to say what you want."

The meaning of this sentence is :

"When you are 89 years old, you can say what you want. (i.e., you are allowed to say what you want)."


It's an idiom, really:

When you get to (be) X, you get to (do) Y.

The idiom says that achieving X allows you to do Y, even if Y is not always totally acceptable. How much 'not always totally acceptable' is allowed is down to an individual's judgement.

  • i think that you are overcomplicating things, combining get to be with get to do. They are both versions of the same meaning. Please check things in a appropriate reference (in this case, a good dictionary) before answering a question. Please provide those references in your answer, otherwise your answer is just an opinion.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 14:08

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