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I more often than not, I hear people say - He / she / they are 'getting a divorce'. This does not sound correct to me. To my mind it implies, they're away to the shop to buy something, ie: 'they are getting a loaf of bread'. Surely it should be 'they are getting divorced' or 'they got divorced'? It's keeping me awake at night.

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    Please search before posting questions. Here’s just one of the several recent posts about these expressions. Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 13:04
  • Both your versions are in common use. OR there's We're divorcing. Or He's divorcing me or I'm divorcing her. Syntactically, they're all fine. Use whichever you like best. Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 13:08
  • I'm having a hard time understanding how who seems like a native speaker asks a question like this. get here is obtain but get a loaf of bread is obtain or buy. get has many uses in English and is not just buy.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 16:13
  • A divorce is a legal process/document. You obtain one by filling out some forms and possibly going to some kind of hearing in front of a judge. You could also talk about getting a marriage licence, a passport, an eviction notice, a fishing permit, etc.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jun 11 at 7:31

3 Answers 3

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Get is one of the words most richly endowed with multiple meanings in the English language. If “I’m getting a headache” doesn’t conjure for you images of heading to the store to purchase some pain, then getting a divorce may be seen as no different.

Consider “I’m getting the idea you don’t like her.” That’s perfectly idiomatic, and there’s no financial transaction involved here either. Nor is there cause to reword it to something like “I’m coming to subscribe to the idea that you don’t like her.”

Or even more closely parallel to your getting a divorce/getting divorced, consider “They’re getting a reprimand for their behavior” vice getting reprimanded.

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"Getting a divorce" is correct, since you are using a noun. You can use "get" in different ways than buying something or having something physically. "I'm getting a new couch" and "I'm getting a punch in the face" both use "get" however it's used differently.

"We are divorcing" is also correct, here you're using the verb. Both are very common and I can't think of a situation in which you have to choose between one or the other, so it's free to choose which phrasing you'd like to use.

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  • Getting divorced is perfectly idiomatic too (compare getting married). The court is going to perform the procedure of divorcing them. Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 17:39
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"Getting a divorce" or "getting divorced" are both correct.

I understand that OP is asking which of the phrases is correct.

1. I, more often than not, I hear people say - He / she / they are 'getting a divorce'. This does not sound correct to me.

It is correct to use the indefinite article, 'a' because divorce is both a countable and an uncountable noun. getting a divorce is a phrase in the English language.

Ref : Oxford dictionary https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/american_english/divorce_1

divorce noun [uncountable, countable] the legal ending of a marriage

The marriage ended in divorce in 1996. an increase in the divorce rate (= the number of divorces in a year)

They have agreed to get a divorce.

2. Surely it should be 'they are getting divorced' or 'they got divorced'? It's keeping me awake at night.

In this case 'divorced' is an adjective.

Ref: Cambridge dictionary - https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/divorced

divorced adjective (PEOPLE)

married in the past but not now married: She's divorced.

get divorced They got divorced after only six months of marriage.

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