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little; few in number; trivial; unimportant; modest
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ESL Lesson: Phrasal verb take

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Phrasal verb take or "Take on"

In this story I''d like to take you on a journey to discover the secrets of another phrasal verb — take.

As you probably know by now phrasal verbs are made up of two parts — the verb + a preposition.

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I''m sure you have noticed that one phrasal verb can have hundreds of different meanings. Here are just two examples:

  • The airplane is taking off in 30 minutes.
  • Last summer I took up a new hobby — scuba diving.

Can you guess the meaning of these sentences? You''re right. The first expression means that "the airplane is leaving the ground in 30 minutes — it starts flying in 30 minutes."

The second expression means that «I started a new hobby last year "I started to scuba dive."

What about some more examples? Read this story and try to guess the meaning of the expressions with the verb take in italics.

"Take On"

When he was forty-two, Charlie Banham was made redundant. He didn''t take to the idea at all. It all happened so quickly. His boss, Angus Henderson, whom Charlie had not taken to the moment he''d taken over from his previous boss eighteen months before, took him aside early one Monday morning and asked him to come to his office, assuring him as he did so that it wouldn''t take up much of his time. He was right. Henderson asked him to sit down, took up a piece of paper and proceeded to read from it. The content of the speech was that Charlie would have to go but of course, if he wished, he could take the matter up with the managing director and take the matter further. In other words Charlie was being asked to take himself off as quickly as possible. It took several minutes before Charlie could really take in the news. What really galled him was that Henderson was so taken up with himself that he couldn''t even be bothered to thank Charlie for his services over the last ten years. Charlie was apparently being blamed for the drop in sales of his new product which he had convinced everyone would soon take off.

Charlie cleared his desk and went to the canteen to enjoy his last cup of coffee there. Colleagues assured him he was lucky. With his free time, they said, Charlie could take up all those hobbies and interests for which he had never had time before. He would soon take to his new life, drawing his pension and enjoying the financial benefits of his lump sum. But Charlie had other ideas. At first he was so taken aback by the news that he couldn''t think straight. Then all he wanted was to take Henderson by the throat and tell him exactly what he thought of him. But Charlie took after his father who always looked on the bright side and slowly he began to take in the possible advantages he could get from his new situation. There was no point, he thought to himself, in taking it out on Henderson. After all Henderson couldn''t help being crass, insensitive and thoughtless but on the other hand other people could be prevented from behaving in the same way. Within the space of about six months his time was completely taken up with making preparations for setting up a new agency. Out of sheer perverseness he decided to call his new company the Henderson Agency so that he would always be clear in his mind what his aims were and what task he had taken on. The agency was set up to offer advice to employers on good management. He took out a loan from his local bank to refurbish an office, worked out a detailed business plan, which the bank manager was quite taken with, advertised for some staff and took on two of the fifty that applied and set up his business. Within three years he had taken on another ten staff and taken over a local agency that had failed to make a profit. Many people in the area originally took him for a bit of a confidence trickster but they soon found out that he was very effective and successful and it wasn''t long before they took back all their critical remarks. Charlie suspected that Henderson had been at the bottom of these allegations. Nevertheless he still continued to take in a large amount of business and was able to set up other agencies in two neighbouring towns.

After five years to the day Charlie found he was earning far more money now than if he had stayed with his old company. He soon began to realize that he was very wealthy even when you had taken the tax away from his earnings. At the same time he didn''t take on airs, he remained the same person who had lost his job five years ago. In fact in those days he would be the one who made others laugh by taking off the boss. Now he was one of the bosses himself.

The following day he had a chance to show what kind of employer he was. Sitting in front of him was his old boss, Henderson, who had also been redundant and had taken upon himself to apply for a job with Charlie. As Henderson assured him he would be prepared to undertake any type of work. Charlie had this irresistible feeling that he would like to take Henderson down but he resisted. Then as he took down Henderson''s details, he had a brilliant idea and asked Henderson whether he would like to take on a role in a training video he was making. Henderson took to the idea immediately and agreed to do it. Charlie took out a video they had already made from the shelf behind him and showed Henderson the title: "How to manage people." Then, making sure Henderson was taking everything in, he leaned across his desk and said: "Now the one I would like you to be in will be called: HOW NOT TO MANAGE PEOPLE."

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Next:ESL Lesson: Phrasal verb take (2)

Author: Alan Townend

English Grammar through Stories (PDF)
English Grammar through Stories could be your saviour — it shows you a completely new way of learning. Forget about old-fashioned text books with difficult explanations and boring sample sentences. You can improve your grammar very fast if you know how. The answer is a few clicks away: Read these unique short stories by Alan Townend and absorb the patterns of English grammar automatically. You can only learn if you enjoy what you are doing. You will love the funny characters in English Grammar through Stories because they show the strengths and weaknesses of human nature. On top of all that, each story concentrates on one particular grammar item so all you have to do is read the book and have fun. You will be amazed at how easily you can improve your grammar.

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