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.

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

Dictation #1

Accent: Northern England

member you'll to of gym's first .
a member you'll able to advantage of gym's first facilities.

…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!

Discussion questions

Write your answers to these questions in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

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

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