1

I'm trying to understand the exact meaning and usage of take an interest in. There are several examples of the collocation in various dictionaries:

#1 #2

What is the most common circumstances in which we use the idiom in place of, say, just to be interested in. Examples from the dicitonaries:

Do you take an interest in your children? You should take an interest in everything your child does.

Why don't we just say

Are you interested in your children. You should be interested in everything your child does.

What is the differences?

Or this one:

‘What do you mean?’ asked Pat, now taking an interest in the proceedings.

As far as I got, the meaning of take an interest here is that your interest is getting increased. But why don't we say

now I'm becoming more interested in the proceedings

instead?

3

take an interest implies a personal involvement, beyond just wanting to study something (being interested).

This would be the case in:

You should take an interest in everything your child does.

In the case of:

You should be interested in everything your child does.

it is like you are watching your children/studying their actions, and that appeals to you somehow. However this does not require any action on your part.

The same for:

'What do you mean?' asked Pat, now taking an interest in the proceedings.

shows his involvement, while:

Now I'm becoming more interested in the proceedings.

is like you are reading an article in the newspaper or hearing someone talk about it.

2

I'm not happy with the example given at Macmillan, "He's never taken much interest in his kids." I would say that should be "He's never shown much interest in his kids."

To take an interest in (something) means

1) to take it up as an avocation or hobby or
2) to devote attention to it as a matter or topic of importance or relevance

To show interest in (someone) means
1) to act in a way that indicates concern for their concerns
2) to act in a way that indicates a willingness or desire to make their acquaintance, especially in an amorous sense

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