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I am watching the Netflix drama "Good Witch".

In there, a woman said "You don't let great guys get away" to another woman.
I was wondering why not the use of "go away" instead of "get away".

Should the "get away" only be used in that context? Or is that interchangeable with "go away"? Is there any difference in the nuance?

Thank you very much.

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  • The phrasal verb "get away" is listed in several dictionaries, such as Oxford Learner's. If dictionary defintions don't help, then please explain why not in your question. Jul 24, 2023 at 16:41
  • It's not obvious to me how a non-native speaker would figure out the difference by simply comparing dictionary entries for get away and go away. Which are in many contexts totally synonymous anyway. Jul 24, 2023 at 17:43
  • Yes, here I would say that get away and go away are basically the same but get away is more snappy and Am. TV shows like snappy. Get away has the added idea of escape. Keep the dog on his leash and don't let him get away [from you].
    – Lambie
    Jul 24, 2023 at 18:18
  • MarcInManhattan, thank you for the comment. I am sorry that my English is not yet great enough to see the shades of meaning from reading the definition of the word. I am trying hard to raise my level of English proficiency by a notch. Thank you. Jul 25, 2023 at 6:09
  • Thank you, FumbleFingers, very much for your comment and the understanding of the difficulties as ESL learner. Jul 25, 2023 at 6:12

2 Answers 2

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Don't let them go away implies you need to stop them wandering off, whereas Don't let them get away implies you need to stop them escaping.

Both are perfectly credible for OP's context - it just depends which shade / nuance of meaning you want to convey. But bear in mind that using get away doesn't really imply that any of those "great guys" would ever think they were being held against their will.

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  • No. There is no "escape" - an actrive breaking of confinement or control - implied. Rather, this is idiomatic, as in "the one that got away" - meaning a romantic interest which one regrets not working out. The first is not OK, it sounds incredibly weird and a fluent speaker would ask "what do you mean by that?"
    – BadZen
    Jul 25, 2023 at 1:50
  • "The one that got away" comes from fishing -- the fish that escaped the hook. Fishing is a metaphor for finding a mate, and to let a potentially good partner escape commitment can be seen as something to be avoided. Jul 25, 2023 at 2:18
  • FumbleFingers, your explanation helps me understand a lot better between the two. BadZen, do you mean then "you don't let great guys go away" sounds awkward to native speakers? Thank you HemiPoweredDrone for the new phrase 'the one got away''. What is the opposite phrase of the "one one that got away"? Thank you all. Jul 25, 2023 at 6:55
  • @user1026669: I don't find "great guys" particularly idiomatic in the first place (how many great guys does one woman need?). But then I'm not a single woman looking for a life partner! I assume the context is that there's one particular "great guy / attractive catch" contextually relevant, in which case it would seem much more natural to say something like "You shouldn't let a great guy like him get away!" (i.e. - you should try to hang on to him). Given the way "the dating game" is usually presented as a chase involving hunter and prey, get away is the more natural phrasing. Jul 25, 2023 at 13:28
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This is simply idiomatic. If a love interest "goes away", he or she might be going to the store, or to visit a friend, or to vacation in another country. They might return.

If a love interest "gets away", the relationship is over (and the speaker did not want it to end.) They will not return.

There's no good reason for this difference based on the dictionary definitions of the words - you just have to know this usage.

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    Should I have included more context to the question, or is the question by itself clear enough without further explanation of how the relationship ended between the guy and the woman? Thank you. Jul 25, 2023 at 7:06
  • Please explain the downvote.
    – BadZen
    Jul 25, 2023 at 13:18
  • @user1026669 - I don't understand. Your question is clear. "Is there any difference in the nuance?" The answer is that the phrase "let... get away" has a specific connotative meaning when it is used in relation to a person / love interest. "let... go away" does not carry this meaning. So the answer is yes; there is a difference.
    – BadZen
    Jul 25, 2023 at 13:21

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