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Why is it that we can say

I take pride/pleasure/satisfaction/joy in being a successful man.

But can't say

I take sadness/dissatisfaction/unhappiness in being an unsuccessful man.

The definition of this meaning: to have or experience a particular feeling. But it looks like the word take is only limited to collocate with "pity, offence, pride, joy, delight, satisfaction,comfort, pleasure"

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    The same seems to be true of give: you can "give pleasure/comfort/satisfaction to someone" but you can't give disconfort - you "cause discomfort for someone"
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 24, 2016 at 7:28
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    I think the short answer is "because English is like that."
    – stangdon
    Apr 24, 2016 at 14:28
  • Interesting observation. Also seems to apply to "it gives me great pleasure..." Maybe the answer lies in what "it" refers to. Apr 28, 2016 at 20:59
  • One can "take umbrage" or "take offense".
    – jtbandes
    May 7, 2016 at 3:13

1 Answer 1

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Correct phrasing:

I take pride/pleasure/satisfaction/joy in being a successful man.

Incorrect phrasing:

I take sadness/dissatisfaction/unhappiness in being an unsuccessful man.

There are no written grammatical rules to explain this, it is a convention. To explain the convention subjectively, I would say that this is to do with how the noun phrase is perceived.

So in the first sentence, "pleasure" is used as a noun, "the state or feeling of being pleased". The corresponding verb is chosen depending on the accepted action on that verb. Being proud or pleased is associated with doing something to be proud or pleased about, therefore you achieve pride, you proactively go out and seize the pride, therefore "to take" the pride is an appropriate verb.

In the second sentence, it would sound correct to say "I feel sadness in ..." or "I find great sadness in ...". In this case "sadness" is not something someone seeks to acquire or take, sadness is found, or thrust upon someone and felt. therefore "to find" is an appropriate verb.

This is not a hard and fast rule, for example, it is not common to say "I create pride" or "I acquire pride", and it is also not common to say "I receive sadness" or "I discover sadness". However, generally speaking the action upon the noun in chosen depending on how the noun (sadness, pride) is perceived.

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  • A great answer. I appreciate it. Jun 2, 2016 at 8:13

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