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This is the subs below from TV show Suits

Harvey"Let me tell you something. This isn’t elementary school. This is hard work. Long hours. High pressure. I need a grown goddamn man."
Mike "You give me this, and I will work as hard as it takes to school those Harvard douches and become the best lawyer you have ever seen."

I think I know that the bold part is 'as ~as comparison'.
However, the part I don't get is why 'takes' is used in the sentence.

The reason I get to wonder is... Please look at the sentence below.

a) It’s not as heavy as I thought it would be, actually.

If the sentence a) is separated into two parts, it will be like...

It is not heavy. I thought it would be heavy.

Based on this rule, if Mike's sentence is divided, I think it will be like this.

I will work hard. It takes hard(?) to school those Harvard douches.

If the words come after 'takes' I thought it is supposed to be 'hard work'

Thus, if I separated Mike's phrasing,

I will work hard. It is hard to school those Harvard douches.
or
I will work hard. It takes hard work to school those Harvard douches.

By any chance, is 'as hard as it takes' idiomatic?

It is hard to analyze and understand for me as not a native English speaker.
It has been annoying me for days...
Could anyone help me with this?

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  • It's a misstatement of an idiom, as long as it takes. This is from the construction take + <time length>, as in This'll take a while, Take a minute to look at it, Take all the time you need, It usually takes a half-hour, You should keep going as long as it takes to do the job. This is substituting degree of work (on a scale where hard is a large degree) for time, which doesn't really work with the verb take. You can't use hard like long; it doesn't mean the same, and it's not part of the idiom. It sounds like it might make sense, but it's just off pitch. Mar 28, 2021 at 18:22

2 Answers 2

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  • I will work as hard as it takes to school those Harvard douches

Based on: It takes hard work to school those Harvard douches.

The parse is: as hard as it takes to do something.

The parse is not: "as hard as it takes" on its own.

It takes hard work to do something.= to school [verb] those Harvard douches.

takes is used because it refers to: It takes hard work to do something.

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Your analysis seems OK to me. And yes, the phrase ”as hard as it takes” is idiomatic. But it’s not very common. I threw it at Google Ngram and it found a few instances, but all recent and not too many of them.

But notice that it has the same form as “as long as it takes”, and that is much more common.

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  • I believe the idea is that the task takes (consumes) time.
    – David42
    Oct 17, 2020 at 22:47

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