take advantage of: meaning and explanation

If you take advantage of something, it means that you are using a situation or an opportunity and benefitting from it in some way. This could be used in a positive or neutral way, e.g. We took advantage of the beautiful weather by going for a long walk.

If you take advantage of someone, the meaning is more negative, as it sounds like you are using or exploiting somebody or something about them, e.g. You’ve got to learn to say no to people – don’t always let them take advantage of you.

With this negative sense, this phrasal verb can be used in the passive when focussing more on the victim. e.g. Jemima feels like she has been taken advantage of by the other members of the team.

Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Listening exercises

Dictation #1

Accent: Northern England

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member you'll to of gym's first .

About the sentence

…As a member…

Notice the use of ‘as’ at the beginning of this sentence. We use ‘as’ when we talk about a job, a function or a position – e.g. I work as a teacher.

A very common mistake for speakers of certain languages is to use ‘like’ instead of ‘as’ in these situations – this is incorrect, so be careful!

Dictation #2

Accent: Ireland

Available soon

Dictation #3

Accent: North America

Available soon

Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • Has anyone ever taken advantage of you or something about you? Have you ever taken advantage of someone?
  • Think of a time when you took advantage of an opportunity or a chance to do something.

Photo by Greg on Flickr

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