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  • the book took 3 years to write.
  • the book was 3 years in the making.

Are there any differences between the above two sentences? Looking at the dictionary it feels like they convey basically the same meaning but I feel there’s more to it.

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  • Are you comparing "write" with "make" or "take 3 years" with "3 years in the making"?
    – gotube
    Jan 9, 2022 at 8:01
  • Take 3 years vs 3 years in the making
    – Ray
    Jan 10, 2022 at 11:25

3 Answers 3

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To make a book you don't only write it. You also need to publish it. Publishing might take a long time.

So it might take three years to write the book, another year to find a publisher and another year for the publisher to produce, print and send it to the shops. The book took three years to write, but was five years in the making.

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I'm assuming you're trying to compare the two structures:

  • [ "take" + length of time + "to" + base form verb ]
  • [ "be"-verb + length of time + "in the making" ]

In that case, the two sentences have the same meaning.

The first sentence is neutral style with no nuance.

The second has a poetic or narrative style, and carries the nuance that it's a long time. People use the second version when they praise or introduce something (a book, in your example), and wish to emphasize the length of time or amount of work that went into completing it.

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"The book took 3 years to write" means that the writing process took three years. "The book was 3 years in the making" is more about the entire process of writing, editing, manufacture, and publish the book.

Here's the definition of "in the making" and examples of how it can be used, might be helpful!

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