Understanding the Idiom: "take for granted" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English
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When we use the phrase “take for granted”, we are referring to something that we assume or expect to always be there without giving it much thought. It can be a person, an object, a situation, or even a feeling. We often fail to appreciate its true value until it is no longer available.

This idiom has been used in various contexts and situations throughout history. From personal relationships to global events, taking things for granted has led to many negative consequences. It is important to understand this concept in order to avoid such outcomes.

The Origins of “Take For Granted”

The exact origin of this idiom is unclear, but it has been used in English since at least the 16th century. Some sources suggest that it may have originated from medieval times when landowners would take their tenants’ loyalty and services for granted without showing any appreciation or reward.

Over time, the phrase became more commonly used in everyday language as people began to recognize its significance in various aspects of life.

Examples of Taking Things For Granted

There are many examples of taking things for granted that we encounter in our daily lives. Some common ones include:

– Taking our health for granted by not exercising regularly or eating unhealthy foods

– Taking our loved ones for granted by not expressing gratitude or spending quality time with them

– Taking our jobs for granted by not putting in enough effort or being complacent

– Taking nature’s resources for granted by polluting or wasting them

All these actions can lead to negative consequences such as illness, broken relationships, job loss, and environmental damage.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “take for granted”

The idiom “take for granted” is a commonly used expression in the English language that refers to something being assumed or expected without much thought or appreciation. However, the origins and historical context of this phrase are not as widely known.

Historically, the phrase can be traced back to ancient Greece where it was believed that people took things for granted because they were readily available. This idea was further developed during the Enlightenment period when philosophers such as John Locke argued that humans have a tendency to take their basic needs and rights for granted.

In modern times, the idiom has been used in various contexts ranging from personal relationships to political discourse. It has become a common expression in everyday conversation, often used to remind individuals of the importance of appreciating what they have rather than assuming it will always be there.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “take for granted”

Variations of “take for granted”

While “take for granted” is the most common form of this idiom, there are several variations that convey a similar meaning:

  • “Take advantage of”: This variation implies that someone is exploiting a situation or person without acknowledging their contribution or effort.
  • “Not appreciate”: This phrase conveys a lack of gratitude towards something or someone.
  • “Underestimate”: When you underestimate something, you fail to recognize its true value or potential.

Usage Examples

The following are some examples of how this idiom can be used in everyday conversations:

Example 1:

Person A: “I don’t think I need to study for this exam. The material seems easy.”

Person B: “Don’t take it for granted. You should still prepare thoroughly.”

Example 2:

“I never realized how much my parents did for me until I moved out on my own. I took them for granted.”

Example 3:

“When you have good health, it’s easy to take it for granted until you get sick.”

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “take for granted”

When we say that someone takes something for granted, it means that they do not appreciate or value it properly. Synonyms for this phrase include undervalue, underestimate, overlook, ignore, and neglect. On the other hand, antonyms include cherish, treasure, value highly, appreciate fully, and recognize the worth of.

The usage of this idiom can vary across cultures. In Western societies such as the United States and Canada, individuals are often encouraged to be independent and self-sufficient. As a result, taking things for granted may be seen as a negative trait since it implies a lack of gratitude towards others’ contributions. However in some Eastern cultures such as Japan or China where group harmony is emphasized over individualism; taking things for granted may be more acceptable since everyone is expected to contribute equally without seeking recognition.

Understanding these nuances can help us communicate more effectively with people from different backgrounds while also gaining insight into our own cultural biases.

Practical Exercises for the Idiom “take for granted”

Exercise 1: Identify Examples

The first exercise is to identify examples of when you or someone else has taken something for granted. This could be anything from taking your health for granted by not exercising regularly, to taking your relationships with loved ones for granted by not showing them enough appreciation. Write down at least three examples and consider how they relate to the idiom “take for granted”.

Exercise 2: Rewrite Sentences

The second exercise is to rewrite sentences using the idiom “take for granted”. For example, instead of saying “I assumed my job was secure”, try saying “I took my job security for granted”. This exercise will help you become more comfortable using the idiom in everyday conversation.

Exercise 3: Create Analogies

The third exercise is to create analogies that illustrate what it means to take something or someone for granted. For example, you might say that taking something or someone for granted is like assuming a bridge will always be there without considering its maintenance needs. Think creatively and come up with at least two analogies.


| Exercise | Description |

| — | — |

| 1 | Identify Examples |

| 2 | Rewrite Sentences |

| 3 | Create Analogies |

By completing these practical exercises, you can deepen your understanding and usage of the idiom “take for granted” in various contexts. Remember that practice makes perfect, so keep working on these exercises until they become second nature!

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “take for granted”

When using the idiom “take for granted”, it is important to avoid certain common mistakes that can alter its intended meaning. This phrase is often used in everyday conversations and writing, but its proper usage requires a clear understanding of its definition and context.

1. Misunderstanding the Meaning

The first mistake to avoid when using the idiom “take for granted” is misunderstanding its meaning. This phrase refers to taking something or someone as a given, without appreciating their true value or importance. It implies a lack of gratitude or recognition for what one has, and can lead to complacency or neglect.

2. Using it Out of Context

The second mistake to avoid when using this idiom is using it out of context. While it may seem like a simple expression, “taking something for granted” should only be used in situations where there is an implicit assumption that something will always be available or present. For example, saying “I take my health for granted” makes sense because we assume our bodies will function normally until they don’t; however, saying “I take my car for granted” does not make sense because cars require maintenance and repairs.

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