While in New York he took time to visit some friends.

This is an example of the phrase take time to do something from Longman Dictionary.

My question is, can we also say While in New York he took time visiting some friends? Is that also grammatically correct?

  • 1
    Yes - why do you think you can't? I would probably change 'took' for 'spent' though. Jan 19, 2021 at 11:29
  • 2
    @MikeBrockington Because I can't find the same usage with participle phrase in dictionaries.
    – Sam
    Jan 19, 2021 at 11:35
  • "spent time visiting" or "was visiting" might work Jan 19, 2021 at 12:45

2 Answers 2


The idiomatic phrase is to take the time to do something which means:

to spend enough time to do something well or carefully:

  • She didn’t even take the time to say goodbye. (Cambridge)

Gngram finds no instance of "take (the) time visiting".

However, you can certainly spend (some) time doing something:

To "spend time ___ing" means to use your time to do it. You use the word "spend" with time because we think of time as being very valuable, just like money.

  • We spent the first month just debating what to call ourselves. (Phrasemix)

They're both good sentences, but the nuances of the structures give them different meanings.

With "... he took time to visit his friends", the focus is on the significance of his decision to use his time time to visit his friends. Take time to do something implies it's important to do and has a positive feeling. It's often phrased, "... he took time out of his day to...", which makes it clear it's a sacrifice.

With "... he took time visiting his friends", the focus is on how spent limited time in New York. Take time doing something simply implies it cost time and has a negative feeling, perhaps of wasted time, or of a lack of time now.

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