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  1. What if fungus gets growing on your toes.

  2. What if fungus gets to grow ...

Which one is correct to ask someone if they may get the disease?
What does #2 mean?

2 Answers 2

5

First, let me define a couple terms:

  • Inchoative - indicates the beginning of a new state
  • Volitional - an action that is done intentionally

Now, let's talk about get.


When inchoative get is used with an -ing clause like this, it's usually volitional. You can say:

​1. We got going around five in the morning.

But it doesn't work for fungus growing on your toes, which is a non-volitional. The fungus isn't doing it on purpose:

​2. *What if fungus gets growing on your toes? ← ungrammatical

You can use start instead:

​3. What if fungus starts growing on your toes?

Inchoative get isn't always used for volitional predicates. When it's used with adjectives, for example, it's often non-volitional:

​4. I got sick twice last year.

This is fine, even though getting sick isn't intentional. Note that some adjectives end with -ing:

​5. This movie is getting really exciting!

This is fine because exciting is an adjective, not an -ing clause.


In this answer, the * symbol marks a sentence as ungrammatical.

2

I don't think anyone uses a gets growing form. Yes, you can get a disease:

I got a fungus infection.

But the verb grow is OK by itself. If you need to refer to the beginning point, use start:

What if fungus grows on your toes?
What if fungus starts growing on your toes?

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