I'd expected to see some live or embalmed animals. Instead, I got plastic chairs, square tables, and a whiteboard.

"I got" in this case means "I saw" or "this classroom had". Is this usage of "I got" common among native English speaker? Why or why not?

Note: the speaker is just visiting the classroom.

  • The context would help a bit. Was the speaker just a visitor or was the person coming into possession of the contents of the classroom? Oct 2, 2015 at 12:13
  • @VictorBazarov Just visiting the classroom.
    – alexchenco
    Oct 2, 2015 at 12:19
  • 1
    I think "I got" is completely suitable n this context.
    – InitK
    Oct 2, 2015 at 12:31
  • 2
    It is the sort of thing you'd hear at a cafeteria table, yes. But it would be considered rather slapdash writing unless the prose was deliberately aiming for a conversational tone for a valid reason.
    – TimR
    Oct 2, 2015 at 12:50
  • 3
    Using "got" like this is common in unexpected, negative situations. You did not expect or want it, you just got it.
    – user3169
    Oct 2, 2015 at 17:28

3 Answers 3


Yes, this is pretty common usage of got in a casual, conversational context. It's not incorrect, but it is informal. In writing, this usage is generally only appropriate if the author is deliberately evoking an informal, conversational tone.

In general, one would instead use found, saw, or another more traditional verb.

  • 1
    Specifically, I've only ever seen this used in this manner when what "he got" was disappointing or underwhelming.
    – corsiKa
    Oct 2, 2015 at 20:57

It's grammatically valid.

As MrTheWalrus says, it's somewhat informal, because the person did not really "get" the tables and chairs. The wording would be literally correct if he was talking about something he received. Like, "I expected to receive a cash bonus, but instead I got a letter of congratulations."

So yes, in your example, the writer is saying what he expected to see, and then describing what he actually saw. So it would be more accurate to say "instead I saw ..." But the meaning is clear, and I don't think it would be questioned in any but the most formal writing.


This is not a common use of the word "got". There is a subtle mistake happening here.

Firstly, the informalities. The correct usage of the word is "I have got", we leave the "have" to be informal. The other informality is the way "got" is being used.

Here is the common way "got" is used informally:

"Do you see my name on the list?" "I've got Sarah, Jacob, Leslie, and Tom, but you aren't on the list"


"There is ice outside." "That can't be true, I'm getting 70 degrees on the thermometer."

The responses can be made even more informal, by eliminating the second half of the sentence: "I've got Sarah, Jacob, Leslie, and Tom, but not you" and "That can't be true, I'm getting 70 degrees"

Finally, the reason your question isn't common is because when you add the second half of the sentence, it is an odd thing to say:

"I expected to see that, but instead I got this as the things that I see."

Nobody talks like that.

  • This answer is incorrect firstly because "got", here, is the simple past tense of "get" and secondly because people do talk like that. Perhaps not where you come from, I don't know, but it's very common here (London, England)
    – Au101
    Oct 2, 2015 at 22:22
  • I can accept being totally wrong, or maybe I'm just not being clear. I think it's a perversion of a common informality.
    – Carl
    Oct 2, 2015 at 23:08
  • I reside in Boston, US
    – Carl
    Oct 2, 2015 at 23:19

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