General Writing and Grammar Help/Get stuck in

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Question
Dear Ted:

Does "to get stuck in or into something " mean "to start doing something enthusiastically" or "to get trapped / caught in or into something boring, bad, negative"?

If both meaning are possible, would you please give me some examples of how to use each of them?

Also, is it correct to say, "to be or get stuck in traffic"?

BTW, is it "to BE stuck in traffic" or "to GET stuck in traffic"?

If both are possible, when should I use "be" and when "get"?

Again, many, many thanks for your kind help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

  
Does "to get stuck in or into something " mean "to start doing something enthusiastically" or "to get trapped / caught in or into something boring, bad, negative"?

*** I'm going to disagree with the wording of your first definition
.
"To get stuck in" has a very negative connotation.  If you are the person who is stuck, there is NO enthusiasm involved.  Your second definition is the actual meaning, and you actually use the word "negative."  

If both meaning are possible, would you please give me some examples of how to use each of them?

Also, is it correct to say, "to be or get stuck in traffic"?

*** Yes, you can BE stuck in traffic and you can GET stuck in traffic.

BTW, is it "to BE stuck in traffic" or "to GET stuck in traffic"?

*** Both are correct.  The only difference is that "get" implies that you did the sticking yourself.  If you ARE stuck, you are a victim that did not really create the problem.

For instance, you have known for months that there would be construction on the Appian Way.  You decided to "chance it," and you took the Appian Way to drive home.  When you GOT STUCK in a massive traffic jam, you have only yourself to blame, because you KNEW that there would be construction.

Here's an example of "entrapment" --

John liked Mary and would do anything she asked.  She wanted him to decorate her house for a party, so he GOT STUCK doing things he hated to do.  Another way of saying this is "Mary
STUCK John with decorating her house for the party.

President Obama got himself stuck in a mess of his own doing, when he made the statement that there was a "red line" that should NOT be crossed.

*** Paolo, in many cases either one can be used, depending on the particular "slant" you are writing.  Many people throughout the world believe that Obama got himself STUCK.  Others blame the Syrian situation for Obama's getting STUCK in a situation far beyond his control.

Ted

If both are possible, when should I use "be" and when "get"?

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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