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The trouble is there is a difference between what would be nice if it were true and what is actually true. James could have pointed out that while believing in Santa Claus works for young children, it doesn’t work for everyone. If parents believed that Santa was going to deliver presents on Christmas Eve then they wouldn’t go out and buy presents for their children. It would only take until Christmas morning to realize that something wasn’t working with the belief ‘Santa Claus exists’.

-A little history of philosophy-

I don't know exactly the meaning of the word "take" in the sentence "It would only take until Christmas morning to realize that something wasn’t working with the belief ‘Santa Claus exists’"

I think the word "take" means "need". I've tried to rewrite the sentence like this: It would just wait until Christmas morning to realize that something wasn’t working with the belief ‘Santa Claus exists’

Is this rewrite correct?

Thank you!

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You're probably familiar with take being used in phrases like "it will take five minutes" or "it takes a lot of energy."

Those sentences imply a sense of need as you mention, but I like to think of it also as requiring/using/consuming time/energy/effort/resources.

In your example sentence, it is the realisation that needs/requires/consumes only [the time] until Christmas morning.

So you might rewrite it as:

The realisation ... only needed the time until Christmas morning.

  • Is "until" similar to "before"? – XVI Oct 16 '17 at 17:15
  • @XVI In a sense, yes. "Until" means the time leading up to something, though it can feel as though it means the time itself, e.g. "Do not do this until 3am." – Dan Oct 16 '17 at 21:26
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You definitely have the gist of the meaning, but I don't see where you've used "need" in your rewrite. Also, instead of "need", I would use "require." So the result would be:

It would just require waiting until Christmas morning...

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