In accordance with the Oxford's explanations:

- willingness in a relationship to accept what sb else wants and give up some of what you want: - If the dispute is to be resolved there must be some give and take.
Example: Marriage is a give-and-take relationship.


According to the Longman Dictionary:

- a willingness between two people or groups to understand each other, and to let each other have or do some of the things they want.
Example: In any relationship there has to be some give-and-take.

Would it be possible to use this phrase in the ways below:

1) We have a give-and-take together (meaning that we are dealing with each other OR we are working with each other.

2) This is a give-and-take world. (A bit philosophic :) and complicated, but this is another way we use this term in our language; which alludes to the Karma)

I would really appreciate it if you confirm these usages of the same phrase in English or let me know what should I say in the cases above?

3 Answers 3


Your first example is incorrect, second is perfect

  • give and take (as a noun, often no hyphens) is uncountable.
  • give-and-take (as an adjective, usually with hyphens)

1) "We have give and take together" is correct, but not very comfortable; more often you'll hear "There is a lot of give and take in our relationship"

2) "This is a give-and-take world" perfectly correct grammar

  • 1
    @A-friend it's my pleasure, glad to be helping
    – jonathanjo
    May 2, 2019 at 20:10

Your example No.1 sounds wrong to me, but only slightly - replace together with relationship or similar and it would be fine.

Or insert life to make it We have a give-and-take life together

No.2 is already fine - basically the same syntax anyway.


I don't know if "give-and-take" is a good analogy to use for the concept of Karma, as the idiom refers to bargaining more than as a kind of cosmic balance sheet. To put it another way, I don't think of Karma as taking but rather as reflecting or giving back what you put into it.

In general terms, "This is a give-and-take world" is a reasonable statement, as it describes the routine kind of bargaining we do with those outside ourselves for what we want and need. For example, we give our time and energy to certain people to get some of their time and energy back. We agree to do things we might not enjoy, in order to get the things we do. We must constantly transact with others, trading value for value.

Again, I'm not sure how this relates to Karma, but you might view it very differently, and see it more as a transactional relationship, and could say something like:

Karma is a continual process of give-and-take. We may choose to do good deeds now, in order to improve our karma later in life, or even in one of our subsequent lives. By the same token, we may fail to recognize that, as long as we are bound to karma, we must eventually pay for the bad deeds we do.


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