Take it upon yourself

If you “take it upon yourself” to do something, you have done something on your own initiative.

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Take it upon yourself

Today’s English expression is “take it upon yourself.” We use this phrase when we’re describing that someone has done something of their own initiative. That means, nobody else forced them to do it and it’s not their responsibility.

We put this phrase right before an infinitive verb. Companies around the world are taking it upon themselves to shut down their operations in Russia . You learned last week that governments have put financial sanctions on Russian banks and businesses. But those sanctions, by themselves, didn’t say that Nike, for example, couldn’t operate stores in Russia. Nike could keep selling sneakers in Moscow if it wanted to.

But it doesn’t want to. Nike and other companies are taking it upon themselves to stop doing business in Russia. They aren’t being forced by the government to do that, but they’re doing it anyway.

In Lesson 431, you learned that many companies are taking it upon themselves to provide counseling and other mental-health services to their employees. In the U.S., it’s generally expected that companies provide health insurance, paid vacation, and access to a retirement savings account. This is a pretty basic expectation for larger employers with salaried workers. But many companies have taken it upon themselves to also provide special mental-health counseling, wellness apps, and other benefits. It’s not their responsibility, and it’s not even expected. But many companies are doing it anyway.

It doesn’t mean they’re doing it out of the goodness of their corporate hearts; they may be doing it just to gain an advantage in the tight labor market . Regardless, though, they’re not required to do it, so we say they’re taking it upon themselves to provide these benefits.

I’m technically supposed to paste the Quote of the Week into a database that JR and I use to manage the website and the content at Plain English. I often forget. I remembered this week, but I often forget. JR is such a good producer. He takes it upon himself to open the transcript, copy the quote, and paste it into the Airtable database. It’s not his job; it’s not his responsibility. But he does it. And I don’t thank him enough for doing it, so thank you JR. Thank you for taking it upon yourself to copy the quote to where it belongs, so it can go on social media.

If your kids ever take it upon themselves to do extra household chores, you might want to say a special thank-you or encourage them to keep doing those voluntary things. In my condo building, we’re all adults, but we still have to share chores—specifically, shoveling the walkways after a snowstorm. In December and January, I took it upon myself to get out there early in the morning and do a lot of shoveling. I wasn’t required to do that; I did much more than my fair share in those two months. But I took it upon myself to shovel a lot in December and January because I knew I was going to be away for the whole month of February.

JR’s song of the week

JR saw his first-ever musical lately. It was called “Hairspray.” I’ve seen a few musicals; there are a couple that I like, but I have to say it’s not my favorite form of performance art. JR, though, really liked Hairspray. And for today’s song of the week, JR chose his favorite song from that musical. It is, “You Can’t Stop The Beat” and I believe the artist credit goes to three people: Laura Bell Bundy, Matthew Morrison, and Linda Hart.

By the way, last week’s Question of the Week for Plain English Plus+ members was about musicals. Every week, JR creates a discussion prompt for Plus+ members, and last week he asked if we like musicals. I answered that I do not, but there are a few exceptions. I do like one called “In the Heights,” which I saw years ago. I think that was recently a movie, too.

See you next time!

That’s all for today. I need to possibly ask for your forgiveness, in the coming weeks, if the lessons don’t always keep up with the latest news from Ukraine. Things change quickly, but I have to start creating these lessons two to two and a half weeks in advance. So I’m trying to keep the lessons general enough so that they’re not obsolete by the time you hear them. I read my email, and I know you probably want to hear more about what’s going on. But just be patient, we’ll get to all of it as the weeks unfold here at Plain English. We’ll be back on Monday with a new lesson.

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Story: Business response to Ukraine