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I just saw someone's comment (probably a native BrE) on Facebook, she wrote that the verb get should be avoided and she also told said that she had a professor that was always crossing out papers when he saw get/got and suggested substituting that verb with another synonym which is more preferable.

I was also looking for information related to this, here. The site I gave tells that the verb get is very common in informal speaking and writing. I have also read some examples in some dictionaries with the keyword get and I could sense the sentences are all rather informal.

I just want to confirm it here whether I should avoid the verb get in formal writing such as articles, thesis, etc. or is it just somebody being overly fussed about it. If it turns out to be allowable in formal condition, could you give a counterexample to disprove this?

To add a specific matter, I took this sentence from OALD and I want to know whether it could be more formal:

95 per cent of the UK can now get superfast broadband.

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  • It's hard to reply to a question this general. If you post a particular paragraph in which you think you would like to use "get" we might be able to help you -either saying it's fine, or suggesting a rewording. (I suspect we would suggest a rewording.) Nov 23, 2021 at 15:25
  • @EthanBolker Thank you for your input. Please see my edit. I don't have a paragraph, but I've provided a sentence I took from a dictionary.
    – user516076
    Nov 23, 2021 at 15:34
  • YES - as a general principle you should avoid using get in formal contexts. Some uses of this term verb are fine, but many are relatively colloquial, and thus not appropriate for an academic context. If you're not sure which category any given usage falls into, just rephrase using a different verb, to be on the safe side. Nov 23, 2021 at 18:49

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Yes, the example sentence you provide could be more formal and more specific (replacing "get" with "access" or "obtain" or "purchase" depending on which meaning is appropriate).

The answer to your question is, to some degree, a matter of style and opinion. "Get" is generally informal, but an absolute prohibition on the word "get" is extreme. For an example of use in a formal setting, here is a quote from a U.S. Supreme Court case (Rucho v. Common Cause): "Free and fair and periodic elections are key to that vision. The people get to choose their representatives."

Despite that example, it probably is a good idea to avoid "get" in formal writing. Beginning (and even experienced) writers often use informal, vague verbs instead of more specific and appropriate choices, and the professor's prohibition on "get" is likely designed to encourage students to think more carefully about their writing. In most cases, "get" can easily be replaced with a more formal option.

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