Take a decision or make a decision

Discussion in 'English Only' started by champagne, May 13, 2006.

  1. champagne Member


    In the sentence "If you have a lot of information about the different universities you can take/make a more informed/conscious/aware choice

    I know that in the dictionary it says "to make a decision", but I've read many times "take" and now I'm confused...

    Thanks a lot!
  2. moo mouse Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English UK
    Both take and make are used with descisions, but in this context I would definitely say 'make a more informed decision/choice'. I'm not exactly sure why though, it just sounds better to me. I would be interested to hear other opinions!

    But conscious and aware don't really fit this context, informed is the best choice.
  3. lsp

    lsp Senior Member

    US, English
    Just as a point of interest, it is not common to hear "take a decision" in AE (except by Italians, of course ;)). We "make" a decision, or "come to" a decision.
  4. mariposita

    mariposita Senior Member

    US, English
    Yes, in the US, we always make a decision.
  5. maxiogee Banned

    The action of deciding is the taking. The process of deciding, the mental debate you have with yourself, is the making.

    Information leads to us being informed, so…
    If you have a lot of information about the different universities you can
    a more informed choice.
  6. champagne Member

    Thank you very much!
    Now I'm sure english speakers make decisions! :)
  7. zelazbert New Member

    English United States of America

    I was taught that "decisions" are "made." Over the past few years, though, I have been hearing of decisions being "taken" more frequently than "made," from such sources as National Public Radio (NPR) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Can anyone tell me if “taking decisions” is correct, and if so when it became correct?

    Perhaps I was underexposed in my youth to this grammatical development, but it still jars me when I hear of decisions being “taken.” (I blame the government, all this taking rather than making, ;) )

    Thanks to any and all that can shed some light on this for me!
  8. GenJen54

    GenJen54 Senior Member

    Downright Pleasant, USA
    USA - English
    In English, at least in AE, decisions are "made."

    In some other languages, such as French and Spanish to name two, one "takes" a decision < ---> . Is it possible that the people you have heard speaking are non-native speakers of English?

    This would explain the transliteration. From what I know, "take" has not crept its way into mainstream AE yet.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2015
  9. modus.irrealis Senior Member

    English, Canada
    For me too, it's "make a decision" and "take" sounds like translationese (or like Quebec English, which has been influenced by French). Although I searched for "took the decision" on Google News and many are from non-English countries, but there's a quite a few from the UK, so maybe it's something that's catching on in UK and international English.
  10. moirag Senior Member

    English, England
    Both "make" and "take" sound OK to me.
  11. maxiogee Banned

    I'm with you on this zelazbert.
    One makes a decision to take some form of action.
  12. Arenita

    Arenita Senior Member

    Lima - Perú

    I always thought that people "make a decision", but looking for the word decision at Oxford Dictionary I have found the following:

    to make o (BrE also) take a decision tomar una decisión.

    I hope it helps
  13. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Take a decision is used in BE, although less often than make.
    Web results:
    about 19,000,000 for "make a decision
    about 909,000 for "take a decision

    UK results
    about 1,400,000 for "make a decision
    about 145,000 for "take a decision

    That surprises me a little, as I expected take to be more popular than it is.
    The OED takes no position on this, listing both possibilities.
  14. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    To me "take a decision" is one of those quintessentially BE differences, like being "in hospital" or "on queue"-- that last one sounds to an American like good stagecraft.

    I too am surprised how many people were so categorical about the AE version, which of course makes sense to my ears. Maxi's post makes me wonder if there isn't a difference between English English or maybe even RP-- and Irish or perhaps also other dialects.
  15. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    Sorry, I had to do it.:eek:
  16. Victoria32

    Victoria32 Senior Member

    New Zealand
    English (UK) New Zealand
    That's what I'd say too, I mean to 'take a decision' just doesn't sound right, and raises the question "take it where?" :confused:
  17. moirag Senior Member

    English, England

    I've never heard of "on queue" - it's "in a queue" . Are you maybe confusing it with "on cue", which is correct? And if you're not in hospital, where on earth are you??

    As to "take your decision where?", I could - and will - counter "take your bath where"? "take your breakfast where"?
    And, zelazbert, as a native, where were you TAUGHT that it was "make" a decision? I don't ever remember being taught things like this - it's my mother tongue. If you were indeed taught it, that implies there is a common "less correct" alternative your teachers want to teach you to avoid, doesn't it? Obviously not "take", looking at your compatriots' answers!
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 5, 2016
  18. A90Six Senior Member

    England - English.
    As I see it (BE London):

    I would not baulk at hearing take a decision, but I always make a decision. Any controversy can be avoided by the use of the word decide.

    I don't have a problem with in hospital and I am surprised that there is an AE alternative (What is it?).

    The only form of on queue I would understand is on cue, meaning (from the acting profession) to do or say something at the right time.
  19. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    There is a really useful discussion about in hospital and at hospital
    in or at (the) hospital

    Please continue the in/at hospital discussion there if you feel inspired.
    All relevant posts from this thread have had their relevant parts copied there.

    Those of you looking for a discussion on queues, lines and in/on should find your previous thoughts in
    Queues and lines. Are we in them or on them?

    Please try to remember that the topic of this thread is decisions
  20. zelazbert New Member

    English United States of America
    Thanks to all for the revelations and the lively discussion!

    Moirag, I agree that "taking" something doesn't imply that it has to be to somewhere. I don't, however, like the expression "take breakfast," nor "take a decision," just because they intrude on an already disorderly language. Can we not decide to have one term for each act, whether making a decision,or having breakfast? (Oh, and let's drop doing lunch - ack!)

    In the spirit of debate, I think "taking" a decision sounds too much like there were choices that we left behind, and someone may wander by and take the ones we left. That may be apt in some circumstances, but many decisions are unique, and there are no decisions left around for others to take. When you "make" a decision, though, others are left to make their own, with none left for idle picking. Also, if you "take" a decision, does it automatically spawn again for others to take, or is there a limited supply? (When you take a bath or a shower, there might be a limit - the water - but it is still an interesting question whether we actually "take" them... or a test/exam, break, vacation, look, survey, minute...:rolleyes: )

    Thanks again to all who replied, and to the moderators - great forum!
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 5, 2016
  21. Rigoleta New Member

    Romanian - Romania
    I usually use 'make the decision', but I have recently come across the combination 'take the decision'; if they both can be used, which is the difference in meaning?
    For instance:
    - The Board took the decision to change the headquarters at the last Shareholders' General Assembly.
    - The Board made the decision to change the headquarters at the last Shareholders' General Assembly.

    Thank you for helping,

  22. virr2

    virr2 Senior Member


    I think that "take a decision" is primarily British usage and "make a decision" is American usage.
  23. Giordano Bruno

    Giordano Bruno Senior Member

    English, England
    Speaking for BE. I think the two versions are interchangeable without any great difference in meaning or nuance.

    You might prefer to say, "We reluctantly took the decision", which suggests a passive acceptance of a situation rather than the more active "We made the diecsion to start a new plant in Asia".
  24. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    For information, I have noticed many instances of "take a decision" reported on BBC News in the past few months.
  25. Giordano Bruno

    Giordano Bruno Senior Member

    English, England
    It occurs to me also that you would not use "Take a decision" to tell someone to choose.
  26. zelazbert New Member

    English United States of America
    I agree - here in the U.S., in real situations, I have heard "Please make a decision" many times, but never "Please take a decision." In fact, I think if you asked people to "take a decision," most would look around trying to find it.

    From all the responses, it seems like BE accepts both make and take a decision (leaning towards make), whereas AE is still pretty firmly make.

    I, for one, have made the decision that making is better than taking, probbably in the general sense, but in this case for decisions. Not for linguistic reasons, but just because there should be a standard, and and while it's reasonable to take people's advice, it's just as reasonable to make your own decision.
  27. savs New Member

    which is correct?
    do you say, "she takes a decision" or "she makes a decision". Both sound correct, but we generally say "decision-maker" not "decision-taker".
  28. SweetSoulSister Senior Member

    American English
    We say, "make a decision".

    "decision-maker" is correct, we don't say "decision-taker".
  29. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Both are correct. AE prefers make. I have heard take used rarely in AE, and much more frequently in BE.

    The decision-maker vs. decision-taker matter has little to do with the selection of make or take. I've not come across the term decision-taker.

    google results: (These are useful only to show general trends.)
    Results 1 - 10 of about 1,890,000 for "make a decision".
    Results 1 - 10 of about 811,000 for "take a decision".
  30. SweetSoulSister Senior Member

    American English
    Thanks cuchuflete, I didn't know :)
  31. mjscott Senior Member

    Pacific Northwest, USA
    American English
    Agreed. I have never heard decision taker--I'm not sure how it would be used.
  32. ashley817 New Member

    I think "take a decision" is the correct one,and so common to use
  33. AUGUSTA74 New Member

    argentinian english
  34. Esneider113 Senior Member

    I think the meanings are essentially the same. I myself have never used "take a decision."

    I am a native speaker of British English, and the normal thing to say is "make a decision". Using "take a decision" seems to have become very common with the media and politicians in the last few years, but I've never heard anyone say it in conversation.

    So if you are learning English "make a decision" is what you should say if you want to sound more native. If you were talking about yourself you could just say something like "i need to decide" eg "i need to decide which kind of chocolate cake I want for my party"


    Hope this helps
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2009
  35. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    The Longman dictionary provides a brief explanation of the difference between make and take a decision:

  36. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Interesting observation, Paul.
    I wonder if there are many people who make the distinction this entry suggests: "make a decision" can be quick and without much thought, while "take a decision" implies much thought and possibly more time. I think it might well only apply within BrE given the rarity of take in AmE.
  37. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    My guess is "very few", considering that most of the people who posted in this thread suggested that "take a decision" ought to be avoided.
  38. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Both make and take sound fine to me, but without the distinction made by Longman.
  39. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Ahh but, most of those are from the US, while "take a decision" is quite common in BrE, where both forms exist. I wondered whether the distinction is made by those in BrE-landia who might use both forms.

    Edit : It's apparently not made by panj who posted when I did.
  40. wordjazreference New Member

    I'm new here but hope I can add to this old thread - perhaps other new comers may benefit too.

    Aside from Longman dictionary, other authoritative dictionaries may also help shed light on this "take or make" question:

    • Oxford advanced learner's dictionary says:
    "take a decision" is British English usage, equivalent to "decide" (so it seems here that "take a decision" = "make a decision")

    • Merriam-Webster Learner's dictionary gives a similar explanation to that of Longman's:
    "take a decision" may imply the decision is important and official.

    • Interestingly, Cambridge online dictionary, among others, doesn't even include "take" in its examples of "decision."

    I also referred to the English usage books at hand:
    • Merriam-Webster's doesn't have an entry for "decision."
    • Garner's Modern American Usage says "take a decision" is an example of British English invading American English in the late 20th century.

    From the discussions under this thread and my own search, I got the idea that "make a decision" is mainly AE, while "take" is BE.

    However, it seems to me that even British references begin to slight (or forget) the use of "take a decision."
    Another guess is that the phrases of "decision-making" and "decision-maker" have become business buzzwords, hence the winning popularity of "make" a decision over "take."

    I personally would say "make a decision" in most cases, but I'll consider using "take a decision" in accordance with M-W dictionary explanations.

    p.s. I can't post links because I'm a new member, but you can just search those dictionaries online for the word "decision" and you'll find it. The "Garner's" usage book seems only to come in print edition, though.
  41. Notafrog Member

    España (Catalunya)
    English UK
    Here's how I see it. "Make a decision" is the normal thing to say in any flavour of English, just as you would say "make one's mind up".
    If you want to say "take a decision" you will need to justify it. The only way I can see any kind of justification for it is in something like "I took the decision to..." if used as a short form of "I took it upon myself to make the decision to...".
    Otherwise it's just a bad translation from French or another Latin language. The more time goes by, the more bad translations you find in Google results, especially EU-influenced ones.
  42. sofuia New Member

    I normally use take a decision, but have used make a decision as well. However, in the passive form, taking a decision often seems to fit better. For example, today I was correcting an official document and saw the following "Decisions are made by consensus". Now this doesn't sound right to me, aside from being brought up in the UK. The sentence sounds like "consensus is making decisions", while the sentence should imply that the decision-making process is completed once a consensus has been reached. To me "Decisions are taken by consensus" sounds better, because it implies this process more clearly. I hope that makes sense...??!!
  43. littlepond Senior Member

    Not in any flavour of English: "take a decision" is by far more common than "make a decision" in Indian English. There are also "come to a decision", "arrive at a decision", etc.
  44. Notafrog Member

    España (Catalunya)
    English UK
    Combining what you say with littlepond’s* alternatives, "Decisions are made by consensus" actually sounds fine to me, but "Decisions are arrived at by consensus" probaby sounds even better.

    *@littlepond: if, as you say, "take a decision" is common in India, I stand corrected.
  45. littlepond Senior Member

    No issues. As many Indian languages use the verb for "to take" when it comes to "making a decision", Indian English also uses "take a decision".

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