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General Writing and Grammar Help/Take something a step further

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Question
Dear Ted:

What does "to take it a step further" mean?

Would you please give me some examples of how to use the above idiom?

BTW, is it an idiom, an expression or a phrase?

Also, would you please give me some formal and informal/colloquial alternatives to it and what is its/the opposite?

Thank you very much for your kind help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

What does "to take it a step further" mean?

*** It means that you extend your activity beyond the point that you have already reached.

Would you please give me some examples of how to use the above idiom?

*** Although Jack had already won the debate, he took it a step further by citing references from several experts, all supporting his belief.

BTW, is it an idiom, an expression or a phrase?

**** It is an infinitive phrase that has come to have a metaphorical meaning.  I would not call it an "idiom," although other people might.  When you use the phrase you are most likely NOT taking about taking actual steps.  That's why it is metaphorical.

Also, would you please give me some formal and informal/colloquial alternatives to it and what is its/the opposite?

*** The opposite, its antonym, is "take a step backward."  In my example, if Jack had agreed with his opponent in the debate, he would essentially have retreated -- that is a big step backward.

*** The only colloquial alternative that I can think of is this one:  to go the extra mile, another metaphor, because is doesn't actually mean the distance of a mile.  It simply means that you put forth additional effort.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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