7

Consider:

Two units are headed your way.
Two units are heading your way.

Don't get me started!
Don't get me starting!

Is there any difference in meaning?

And I don't see why passive voice is used here. I would think they have similar meaning here.

Help me to clarify!

6

"Headed" can mean "pointed in a particular direction," so it suffices as a shorthand way of implying that those units are also heading that way. Heading is the active participle, equivalent to moving. Although the words are not precisely synonymous, they are used interchangeably because of the implication within the word headed. This is an example of the flexibility of the language.

The other sentences are different, because they are not referring to an ongoing process. "Heading your way" is an ongoing process of movement. "Don't get me started" means "don't cause me to HAVE BEGUN." Starting can't be used here because it is not an accomplished state. When you say, "don't get me started," you mean, "don't cause me to go from NOT doing something to DOING something." As in, "don't cause me to HAVE STARTED talking about that bridge that was built all wrong!" If you said, "don't get me starting," you would be saying, "don't get me into a state of continuously being IN THE PROCESS OF STARTING."

  • Thanks! i don't quite understand "don't cause me to HAVE BEGUN." Let's say, my mom ask me to talk about my girlfriend, but i am not willing to. Can i say to my mom "don't get me started"? @John M. Landsberg – Kinzle B Aug 19 '13 at 6:55
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    You COULD, but you wouldn't, because there is a special tone to the phrase "don't get me started.* It implies, "I have a lot to say about how annoyed I am about this thing!" You don't say, "don't get me started!" when you only mean, "I just don't feel like talking right now; maybe later." (Well, except maybe you really are annoyed about your girlfriend!!) – John M. Landsberg Aug 19 '13 at 7:12
  • "don't cause me to HAVE BEGUN." Why not "don't cause me to begin." You usually cause somebody to do sth, you cannot cause somebody to do sth which they already started. @John M. Landsberg – Kinzle B Aug 19 '13 at 7:35
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    I'd go so far as to say "Don't get me started" is somewhat idiomatic, meaning "Don't get me started on a rant." – J.R. Aug 19 '13 at 9:18
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    @ J.R.: I might go a little further and say that "Don't get me started!" is completely inappropriate as a response to Zhanlong's mother because it normally implies I actually do want to talk about this [vociferously and at length] - but you really don't want to have to listen to me ranting on, so I advise you not to encourage me. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Aug 19 '13 at 14:45

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