English Language Blog

Get past or get behind? Posted by on May 10, 2022 in English Grammar, English Language, English Vocabulary

Hello, dear readers! How have you been getting by? A lot has been said about the ever-present verb get in the English language. Truth be told, get is one of those words with endless possibilities that can simply fit into multiple situations. But doesn’t that just get on your nerves sometimes?

We need to get past that truck (Photo by Life Of Pix from Pexels)

In those cases, I find it more helpful and productive to simply narrow it down to a few terms whose definitions are somewhat related and delve more closely into that. And this is what we’ll be doing today! Let’s have a look at two English phrases with get which, at first glance, can be seen as opposite pairs but whose meanings go even beyond that: get past and get behind.

Are you familiar with these terms? Maybe you can infer what they mean by having a look at the sentence below:

  • I was never able to get past the fact that Adam didn’t get behind my ideas for the project after he promised me he would have my back. It really hurt me. 

Based on this example, we can understand get past in the sense of overcoming something bad that happened, also like:

Excuse me, could I get past? (Photo by Hert Niks from Pexels)

  • If you want your relationship with Nora to work, you have to try to get past the fact that she cheated on you years ago. 

As for get behind, it works here in the sense of supporting someone or encouraging them in their projects, plans or ideas. Check this one out:

  • If the sales team is able to increase revenue by 2%, I’m sure management will get behind their proposal to review their wages. 

Similarly, to get something past someone means to obtain approval, permission or acceptance from people who are in a position of power:

  • You have to get past the local authorities if you want the building permit to expand this parking lot.
  • Marty’s 4-day working week plan will never get past the board.

It is also used in the sense of ignoring or overlooking a negative aspect of something so you can better enjoy an experience:

  • Once you get past the over-the-top décor and questionable design choices, the hotel can be really charming a make for a pleasant stay.

But you can also use get past in a more physical sense, as in asking people to move to make room for you or as in to go over an obstacle (in this sense, it is similar to “get through”):

We need to convince more employees to get behind us on this overhaul project (Photo by fauxels from Pexel)

  • Excuse me, could I get past?
  • We need to get past this slow truck if we want to make it to the hotel before sunset.
  • Due to the storm, there are an uprooted tree on the road, so we couldn’t get past.

And the same goes for get behind, which also implies a physical movement (in this sense, it is similar to “fall behind”):

  • Cindy! How did you get behind the couch? Come over here, honey?
  • We can’t get any further behind schedule if we want to finish this audit presentation by Wednesday.

Do you know any other ways to use get past or get behind? Let us know in the comments below! Have a nice week.

And while we are at it, why not check out our previous posts on the subject? 

Phrasal verbs for phone calls

Phrasal verbs and their opposites

Useful phrasal verbs in English

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