This is a good example showing that, despite its modal-like form, "to get" can also function as an auxiliary. In fact, it is sometimes considered to be in a special group of verbs called "semi-auxiliaries". They include the following:

have to, has to, had to, be to, get, got, be going to, keep, used to...etc

The boys got nervous before the exams.
The dog got lost.
I get tired at basketball games

Quite often, get is used as an auxiliary in a passive construction, so-called The get-passive. This use of get is limited to informal style and normally constructions without an agent.

I hope you didn't get hurt.
It's upsetting when a person gets punished for a crime that they didn't commit.

To get back to your question, I think, in an informal usage, the sentences are interchangeable. Avoid using get in formal writing.
I regret to say that I must correct PromegaX's answer. Get is not "modal-like," nor does it function as an auxiliary. Auxiliaries are sometimes called "helping verbs," and form part of the verb phrase. Get is a dynamic (action) verb that expresses a transition from one state to another. Get can be paraphrased by the verb become.

Here are the differences between Poobear's sentences:

1)I'm nervous. I'm excited.

These sentences are in the present tense, and the verb be describes the speaker's present state. Be is a stative verb.

2)I got nervous. I got excited.

The sentences in 2 are in the past tense and describe events in the past. "I got nervous/got excited" describe a change of state; the verb got is a dynamic verb.

Marilyn Martin
Dear Marilyn,

Thank you for your comment. But I need to tell you that the analysis I made above is not mine. It is based mostly on the explanation of Prof. Martha Kolln described in her excellent textbook*** (the one that I used when I took linguisgtics). In her book, Prof. Kolln states that "The following modal-like verbs also function as auxiliaries; they are sometimes referred to as semi-auxiliaries.

have to, get, keep
has to, gets, keeps
had to, got, kept
be to, be going to, used to

He has to go.
She got started.
She got to go.
The bus is to leave at noon."

In Doing Grammar****, Max Morenberg seems to agree with Kolln when he states that "Sometimes Gets is the auxiliary in a passive sentence...So sometimes you'll find get as the auxilary in a passive sentence rather than BE, especially in informal language, in order to emphasize the sense of becoming.

In addition, here is one of the definitions of get I found in a dictionary.

(used as an auxiliary verb fol. by a past participle to form the passive): to get married; to get elected; to get hit by a car
(Random House Webster's Unabridge Dictionary)

I completely understand what you explained above. To me, it seems like this partial auxiliary property of "get" is still controversial, and it's a bit unfair to claim the opposing view a mistake.

***Understanding English Grammar, Martha Kolln, Macmillan
****Doing Grammar, Max Morenberg, Oxford
Now I see that some clarification is in order. PromegaX's posting saying

"This [The two sentences in Poobear's posting] is a good example showing that, despite its modal-like form, "to get" can also function as an auxiliary."

...was about a different get--the verb in the get-passive ("My brother got mugged outside his apartment last night"). PromegaX's statements led us into a discussion of this different use of get. I should have mentioned that we were off the topic of the original posting in that respect.

The get of the example sentences ("I got nervous/excited") is not the same as the get of the get-passive. The get of the example sentences means "become" or "grow." It is a lexical (main) verb that expresses a transition from one state to a different state.

In grammatical terms, it is a catenative (linking) verb that takes an adjective or adjectival complement. The complement forms that have the form of past participles, e.g. excited, bored, tired, worried, lost) are not past participles; they are adjectives.

Quirk et al.*, Section 3.49 provide a good discussion of catenative verbs, including get.

(About Kolln's description of get as "modal-like": The get of the get-passive, in no way resembles a modal auxiliary. Modals and marginal modals are a special category: they have only one grammatical form (except for have to); they take only the infinitive, bare or full; they combine with the perfect auxiliary have, etc. Get has none of these properties. Calling get (and the catenative verb keep!) "modal-like" is deviant, to say the least.)

We have gotten sidetracked (this is not a passive, either!), I'm afraid.

Marilyn Martin

*A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (Longman, 1985)
The discussion about the category of "got" in the sentences above is most interesting.

Without naming the grammatical function of "get," I'd like to note a short explanation of usage in Understanding and Using English Grammar* by Betty Azar:

"Get may be followed by certain adjectives [31, including "nervous," are listed]. Get gives the idea of change – the idea of becoming, beginning to be, growing to be.

In (a), I'm getting hungry = I wasn't hungry before, but now I'm beginning to be hungry.

Get may also be followed by a past participle. This past participle functions as an adjective; it describes the subject. The passive with get is common in spoken English, but is often not appropriate in formal writing."

In the index, "get" is listed as a linking verb as in "get hungry," and with the passive as in "get worried."

In Ven's sentence 1), the state of being nervous is described. There is no mention of when the state began and ended. In sentence 2), the speaker wasn't always nervous; the nervousness began after and maybe because of something, before which the speaker was not nervous;. Two states – not being nervous and then becoming nervous – are considered in the second sentence.

*Understanding and Using English Grammar, Third Edition, by Betty Azar. Prentice Hall Regents. 1999

Thank you,PromegaX,Ven,Marilyn and Rachel.
I guess I understand it.

I was excited a while ago,but now I get bored/
am getting bored.

I got nervous then,but now I get/am getting relaxed. So I think I'm ok.

Are these correct? Thanks again.
1. I am bored.
1a. I get bored.

2. I am being bored.
2a. I am getting bored.

3. I was nervous.
3a. I got nervous.

4. I am relaxed.
4a. I get relaxed.

5. I am being relaxed.
5a. I am getting relaxed.

6. He is good, but he is being bad.
6a. He is good, but he is getting bad.

7. He was (being) shot.
7b. He got shot.

Just play with get and be, and see how they reverse their processual(action), non-processual(state) roles.
The new example sentences that Poobear has written need context. Here's some context:

"¢ I was excited a while ago, but now I am bored/ am getting bored/ have gotten bored..
"¢ I got excited a while ago, but now I am bored/ am getting bored/ have gotten bored.
"¢ I was getting excited a while ago, but the doctor calmed me, and now I am relaxed.
"¢ I used to be/get excited about things, but I've lost interest and now I get bored very easily. (In this sentence, when you say "I get bored," you're describing an habitual action. The first clause with "used to" also describes an habitual action.)

"¢ I got nervous then, but now I am/ am getting relaxed.
"¢ I was getting nervous then, but I took a tranquilizer and now I'm getting relaxed/ am relaxed.
"¢ I often used to be/ get nervous, but now I am/ have gotten relaxed.
"¢ I often used to be/ get nervous when I saw horror movies, but I've grown to love them and I relax because they are so familiar. I don't get nervous when I see horror movies any more; now I get relaxed and even fall asleep. (In this sentence, when you say "I get relaxed," you're describing an habitual action.)

What do you think, readers? OK?


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