Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

How would the grammar of this construction be analysed? I am trying to identify and define the difference between using this and the regular way of saying the same thing.

Examples:

  • You took this place and you transformed it / You transformed this place
  • You took that song and butchered it / You butchered that song
  • You took my trust and abused it / You abused my trust
  • Alcohol took my life and destroyed it / Alcohol destroyed my life
  • The internet took society and transformed it / The Internet transformed society
share|improve this question

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It is a subtle difference. The word "take" is used in these sentences to mean taking ownership or taking responsibility. To take something and then do something to it implies that the taker has done the action intentionally, or is at least directly responsible for the outcome.

For example, it is possible to transform a place by simply being there, or by passing through, but to take a place and transform it suggests that something deliberate has been done in order to affect that transformation.

It gets a bit more complicated with non-living subjects such as Alcohol and The Internet, but the principle is the same:

The sentence "Alcohol destroyed my life" can be interpreted to mean: [The use of] alcohol destroyed my life. or Alcohol [abuse] destroyed my life, both of which leave the responsibility with the drinker.

The sentence "Alcohol took my life and destroyed it" explicitly personifies the alcohol (by making it the taker) and then assigns blame to it.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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