“Get something to work” vs ”Get something working”

Having the following sentences:

I did not get it to work.
I did not get it working.

Is there a difference in the meaning? What usage of “GET” is this (I would be happy for dictionary entry reference). IMHO the first one is “cause” (like I got him to do that). But I cannot find a reference to “get sth + ing”.


There can be a subtle difference.

If I were creating something, e.g. writing some new programming code; putting some electrical or mechanical components together to achieve a particular objective; installing and setting up a new TV set for the first time [1]; then, if unsuccessful, I might say “I didn’t get it to work or “I can’t/couldn’t get it to work [1]. (It had never worked, because it was new.)

If I were repairing something that had previously worked (e.g. repairing a previously working TV set [1]) and the repair was unsuccessful, then I would probably say “I didn’t/can’t/couldn’t get it working. (It had previously worked.)

Note that these are subtle differences, and I do not mean to imply that the expressions and scenarios are necessarily always used that way around, not that it would be wrong to use them the other way around.

[1] Thanks to Janus Bahs Jacquet, whose comments contributed some examples and other input to my revised answer.

Source : Link , Question Author : John V , Answer Author : TrevorD

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