1. I got to poking around and I found this oyster.
  2. He gets to feeling ashamed of the showing he is making.
  3. The new neighbours got to know each other.
  4. I'd really like to see you again and get to know you better.

In examples 1 and 2, the phrase get to is followed by a gerund while examples No. 3 and 4 show that the phrase get to is taking infinitive after it. So, can we replace a gerund to an infinitive after the phrase get to and it won't change the meaning at all?

  • It will definitely Chang the meaning.
    – Sam
    Nov 23, 2022 at 15:45

2 Answers 2


You are using two different meanings of get to, which are used different ways.

One meaning is "have the opportunity to": this takes the infinitive. The other is something like "started to": this takes the gerund.

For example,

He got to see many animals.

This means "He had the opportunity to see many animals". Only the infinitive is used here.

She got to thinking about the problem.

This means "She began to think about the problem." You can think of it like "She arrived at a place called 'thinking about the problem'." Only the gerund is used here.


You've found two entirely different uses of "get to".

The first one is [ "get to" + verb-ing ]. This structure means something like, "eventually start to do something". So, "I got to poking around..." is probably used in a context where the speaker was doing something else, like walking along the shore, then after some time started poking around. Your second sentence is the same.

Your sentences 3 and 4 are part of the set phrase, "get to know" something/someone. The "get to" part does not have any meaning apart from the phrase. Think of this whole phrase as a single verb with a direct object that means "become acquainted with".

There's another use of "get to" that's not in your examples, which is [ "get to" + infinitive ] with the function of, roughly, do something that is highly desirable, and a rare opportunity.

I had backstage passes, and I got to meet Bon Jovi!

The verb "get to know" originally comes from this meaning, but it now has no meaning of "desirable" or "rare opportunity".

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