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I frequently write reports for customers with detailed descriptions of my work. Neither me nor my colleagues are native speakers but they frequently use 'got', where I would rather use 'was'. Very crude examples:

  • The file got deleted.
  • The parcel got delivered.

I've corrected this numerous times, but my colleagues do not understand my issue with the term. I've googled, but could not come up with a proper rule against the use of 'got' in these scenarios.

To me, 'got' feels too informal or colloquial to be used in our reports. Do I have any grounds for this accusation or is it purely subjective?

Our reports are US English, but I'd be interested in any rules concerning the topic for both US and UK English.

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    'Correct' English would use was in both cases. Jan 12 at 13:30
  • You're absolutely correct, apparently the issue rattled my brain. I'll adjust the question! Jan 12 at 13:37
  • You haven't indicated whether you are using US or UK English. The acceptability of got is quite different between them.
    – Peter
    Jan 12 at 13:51
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    I was not aware that there would be a difference in this case. I've learned UK English in school and uni, but we base our reports more on US English. Jan 12 at 14:06
  • You might find the answers to Common passive forms - 'foot was hurt' versus 'foot got hurt' helpful, but I don't think it fully answers this question.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 12 at 14:11

1 Answer 1

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We should use was in both cases in formal writing.

get in Wiktionary sense 17 is stated as informal:

  1. (auxiliary, informal) Used with the past participle to form the dynamic passive voice of a dynamic verb. Compared with static passive with to be, this emphasizes the commencement of an action or entry into a state. Synonym: to be

He got bitten by a dog.

Some other dictionaries also have general statements on get being fairly informal.

Collins Dictionary has this note at the beginning of its definition of get:

LANGUAGE NOTE:

In most of its uses get is a fairly informal word.

Oxford Learners Dictionary has this note after its sense 27 definition:

Get is one of the most common words in English, but some people try to avoid it in formal writing.

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