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The Free Dictionary collates a number of definitions for "take into account."

  1. take someone or something into account and take into account someone or something
    to remember to consider someone or something [McGraw-Hill]

  2. take something into account and take something into consideration
    to consider something to be an important factor in some decision. [McGraw-Hill]

  3. take something/somebody into account also take account of something/somebody
    to think about something or someone when you are making a decision or a judgement [Cambridge]

  4. take something into account also take account of something
    to include something when making a decision or judgment [Cambridge]

I am wondering how you would take into account their difference? Or are they interchangeable? If so, when, where, or in which situation?

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    It's not at all unusual for different dictionaries to define an expression in slightly different ways. 1 and 3 are similar; 2 and 4 match. Each publisher acknowledges the two different senses.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 16:09
  • So, are they interchangeable?
    – nima
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 5:44
  • Synonyms are always interchangeable in some contexts and not interchangeable in other contexts. They are, after all, different words (or phrases) and thus (always) have different sets of connotations, even when they have the same denotations.
    – Drew
    Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 16:41

3 Answers 3

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2, 3 and 4 are basically the same, the only different one is number 1; Although their meaning are almost the same, they're not immediately interchangeable

As @user90041 demonstrated, the first meaning is usually used to draw someone/something's attention to someone/something else that they may not be aware of. That someone/something may not be important to you personally, but you just want to say it.

You use the second/third/fourth meaning much like the way you would use especially (and indeed you can use both for greater effect), to draw attention to something you're already aware of, the difference is that in this case that something is indeed quite important to you, not just 'maybe'

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The question is really about the distinction between 1 and 2 (which is the same as between 3 and 4).

Here's an example of 1:

Alice says to Bob and Carol, "We can split the cake into 3 pieces." Carol responds, "You're not taking Dave into account."

An example of 2:

An engineer says, "Is this bridge strong enough, if we take account of the weight of the traffic?"

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Everything is context-sensitive in this world, and so is English language, you cannot always judge about a sentence without having the context, and 1 and 2 will in most cases differ by the context only. The same sentence can be considered under 1 and 2 simultaneously if there is no context. Let me give an example:

  1. -- Do you know that we're having a team lunch today at noon? -- Oh, really? Thanks, I'll take that into account.

  2. -- Do you know that our meeting has been moved to 3pm? I remember you telling that you had another important meeting at the same time. But this one is more important, we will discuss Q3 budget and plans. -- Oh, really? Thanks, I'll take that into account.

The responses in both examples are absolutely the same, but intuitively we can see that first case is just a lunch (unless we have more context that says the lunch is really important for something), and the second one is more important because it puts the responder behind a choice that may affect the future state of affairs.

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  • Considering the links, is my understandings correct? To think about and include something or someone when making a decision or judjment. These two idioms are interchangeably the same. take something into consideration take account of .... And, take into account something or take something into account is a cover term or an interchangeable for all these fours(4) terms, isn't it?.
    – nima
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 7:52

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