He's going to be/get called all kinds of things.

  1. Are "be" and "get" interchangeable here?

  2. Are they considered equally correct?

  • 1
    Get is a more informal way of forming the passive than be. They are otherwise interchangeable in most cases.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 12, 2021 at 12:48
  • 1
    Get is only appropriate in informal language. Apr 12, 2021 at 12:49

2 Answers 2


Both words are correct and interchangeable. This is called a passive-voice auxiliary, and can be done with either word.

From Merriam-Webster for be and get:

auxiliary verb

—used with the past participle of transitive verbs as a passive-voice auxiliary auxiliary verb

// the money was found

// the house is being built

auxiliary verb

—used with the past participle of transitive verbs as a passive voice auxiliary

// they got caught in the act

However, as the comments note, "get" is slightly more informal. It's appropriate for most forms of communication, but in more formal contexts you should use "be" to be safe.


In general usage the words are similar and can be used interchangeably. As other have indicated get called is more informal usage. However, in the specific case where you are referring to someone 'getting called' or 'being called', there is a difference in usage that extends beyond dictionary definitions.

I can be something without anyone or anything else around me. If I lived in a vacuum surrounded by the void, I could be happy or I could be ill. I could be called the last soul in the universe, even though there was no one there to call me that. I don't need anything else to be.

In that same vacuum, however, it would be much harder to get. I could not get lunch (where I initiate the action) nor could I get called something (where someone else initiates the action). This is where the biggest difference lies between these two words.

To be called something, is to be tagged with a name or designation, either positive or negative. To be called something is to be tagged with a moniker that suits your nature. It suggests an innateness to whatever it is you are.

She will be called a great educator. - Because her nature is one of a great educator.

He will be called the destroyer of denim. - Because every time he wears jeans he rips the knees out.

He will be called, Tim! Leader of Toontown. - Because his name is Tim and he is the current leader of Toontown.

To get called something, is a slang term for being teased or bullied. To get called is to have someone else call you something that suits them.

He will get called greasy and fat. - Because little Johnny likes to see him cry.

She will get called ugly. - Because Mikey learned how bully the girls in class really well.

He was hanging out with the older kids and got called 'Shorty' all the time. - Because the older kids wanted to remind him he was too little to play with them.

In summary. Be called means you will be called something because it's in your nature. Get called means you will be called something based on what is in someone else's nature.

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