“It took me 1 hour and 45 minutes to get home.”
“I spent 5 hours writing up a report.”
When talking about how much time you use to complete a task or an action, we use either “It takes…” or “I spend”.
Although they have a very similar meaning, they are not the same. They have specific meanings along with different grammatical structure.
First, let’s take a look at “It takes…“
First thing to note is that the subject is always “it”. “It” represents the task, which is explained later in the sentence with “to do…”.
- Present: It takes + amount of time + to do…
- Past: It took + amount of time + to do…
If you want to specify who the sentence is about, you can add the person after the verb:
- Present: It takes + somebody + amount of time + to do…
- Past: It took + somebody + amount of time + to do…
Yes, “It takes …” is used to express the amount of time required to do something.
- It takes me 2 hours to get to work.
- It takes 4 hours to roast a whole chicken.
- It took us 5 hours to get out the traffic jam on the highway.
- It takes 12 hours to get to Europe from Japan.
- It takes 4 years to get a university degree.
Again, remember the subject is always “it”.
Now let’s take a look at “I spend…“
The verb “spend” is commonly used to talk about money as in “I spent a lot of money on the weekend.” But it can also be used to talk about time.
“Spend” is like any other verb, so the subject is whoever does the action. Also, it’s worth noting that it is followed by -ing verb or “on + noun.”
- Present: I spend + amount of time + doing / on ‘activity’…
- Past: I spent + amount of time + doing / on ‘activity’…
- I usually spend weekends at home.
- We spent 2 hours fixing the car tires.
- My parents spent 10 days in Hawaii.
- She spent the entire night editing her new book.
Differences between “It takes…” and “I spend…”
The important grammatical difference between “It takes” and “I spend” is that “It takes” is always followed by “to do” whereas “spend…” is followed by “…ing” or “on+noun“.
The difference in meaning?
The only difference is what becomes the focus of the conversation; the task or the person. Whatever comes in the position of the subject is the main topic of the sentence.
“It takes…” is solely focused on how much time is required to complete a task. “I spend…” brings the focus on the person, which can indicate that it is his/her choice to spend the time.
Additionally, with “It takes…” the type of time used is always time measured in specific units (1 minute, 2 hours, 5 days, 8 years, a whole morning, a whole day).
With “spend”, in addition to the time measured in units, you can have various time concepts including a specific period of time, such as “this summer holiday, the entire day yesterday, last winter, the rest of his life…”.[日本語訳へ]