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Could you tell me if there is any difference in meaning between it takes a lot of time and it takes up a lot of time? For example, in the 9th episode of the 10th season of Friends the latter was used. Here is the context:

Erica: I was wondering you both have such serious jobs. (to Monica) Would you have time to take care of a baby and your flock?

Monica: Oh, you know, my flock is good, I mean, yeah, my flock pretty much takes care of themselves at this point. Good flock. Flock, flock, flock.

Erica: (to Chandler) Being a doctor must take up a lot of time.

Chandler: No-ot for me it doesn’t.

I wonder if the meaning somehow would change if Erica dropped the up?

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  • The two verbs, take time (delexical verb) and take up (phrasal verb) are identical with their meaning in the context. The difference between them is in their usage. If we say that something takes a lot of time, we mean that something requires an indefinite time span for being in a state. If we say that something takes 3 hours to do, we mean that something requires a specified period of time to do something. If we say that something takes up not-specified time, space or attention, we mean something has required it. In the modern spoken usage the verb take up is preferable. – kngram Jul 13 '20 at 23:10
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Yes, they are slightly different in meaning. When you say "being a doctor takes a lot of time", the reader would think that "Oh yeah, it is about 4 years of postgraduate schooling, that is a lot of time". On the other hand, when you say "being a doctor takes up a lot of time", the reader gets a feeling that being a doctor is an all-consuming process, you should study a lot, you would have only limited free time, etc. The focus is not merely on the schooling length but on the time it takes out of the student's life.

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Yes, they are different.

When you say 'It takes a lot of time' you are focusing on the thing... it is not something that can be done quickly. This would be best used when talking about the task, not the person: "Filling your gas at that pump takes a lot of time, it is slower than the other pumps."

When you say 'It takes up a lot of time' you are focusing on the person... they lose a lot of time doing it. This second would be best used with something that isn't as important, that might even be a distraction... "His comic book habit takes up a lot of his time." It isn't important, but he spends a lot of time on it anyway.

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