I struggle with how to translate (generally informal) sentences containing the word "get." It seems that sometimes you can use 拿, or even 带, but for some reason it feels wrong, or that this is not the best or most common usage.

How can I use the very generic English expression: "get" in the context of the following sentence, where it basically means "fetch."

"Hang on, I have to go get something from my apartment."

"Can you please go get it?"

"Could you please get the milk from the refrigerator for me?"

2 Answers 2


"Hang on, I have to go get something from my apartment."


"Can you please go get it?"


Could you please get the milk from the refrigerator for me?


As a Chinese, in fact, we always say "拿", bring is 带.

  • Thank you for this great answer. Although I did not mention it in my question, one of my sources of confusion is between the words 拿 and 取. Are they equivalent? In that, could I just replace your 拿 with 取 in the above sentences and it would have the same meaning? Sep 4, 2014 at 11:53
  • They are not equal and you can't replace them. and it's so strange to say 取 in the above sentences. generally, you'll see 拿 frequently, but not 取钱,夺取,领取 etc, and I think 取 is so formal, you can almost say 拿 all the time, and just remember the special cases. maybe you are just confused by the Chinese translation of 取(1.拿,2.得到,3选择).because the first meaning is 拿. but 拿 translate to 取 is so strange. so please don't pay much attention to this, If you just want the translation of get, 拿 always ok! Sep 4, 2014 at 14:44

取 is exactly fetch, if it means to go for and then bring back (someone or something).

  • This has always been a source of confusion for me. When do you use 取 vs. 拿? Sep 4, 2014 at 11:50
  • When someone is holding, seizing something, or taking something for free, 拿 is definitely the one. 拿 originated from the action of the the hand, such as grasp, grip or hold. Sep 4, 2014 at 12:46
  • 1
    According to this site xh.5156edu.com/html3/3601.html, 取 originated from a hunting, war custom: cut off and collect the left ears of the games or enemies. Nowadays, 取 is mostly used for collect, fetch or make use of. Sep 4, 2014 at 12:56
  • 1
    That is an amazing etymology, wow I would not have guessed that for the world. Sep 4, 2014 at 13:11
  • The origin goes too far back, 2000 years at least. Things have changed so much, nowadays, most of the time, these two are indistinguishable. Sep 4, 2014 at 13:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.