take action

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quietdandelion

Banned
Formosa/Chinese
The government takes action/s to ban smoking in public places.


Should I have to use the plural actions here?
Second, could I use take steps/measures to replace it? Thanks.
 
  • Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    The common collocation is "to take action" (where "action" is singular).

    Yes, you could say "to take steps" or "to take measures."

    The only slightly strange thing about this sentence is the use of the simple present tense. Normally, one would say,
    The government is taking action to ban smoking in public places." ("taking action" is a process)
     

    WongFeiHung

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The government takes action/s to ban smoking in public places.


    Would I have to use the plural actions here?
    Second, could I use take steps/measures to replace it? Thanks.
    I would use "take actions", - I think it is the correct way, although I swear that I hear 'action' sometimes.

    I think 'steps' is best put in the past - "I've taken certain steps to..." or in the future "I'm taking the necessary steps to..." but not in the present - "I take steps to ...":( (I think you could make it sound better by putting some words in between - "I take all the appropriate steps in order to..." sounds fine)
    I think it's the same with 'measures'.
     

    Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    "take actions" gets 1.1+ million hits on google.
    "take action" gets 29.9+ million hits on google, and is obviously the more common collocation.

    I've never heard there is a "time" distinction (past versus present) with any of these expressions. All of the expressions, however, do sound better using the progressive present: He is taking measures to... I am taking steps to... Again, these expressions reflect processes.
     

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Following up on Joelline's focus on time distinction it is too bad that English does not use such an expression as the French have for this situation. Eg., The French would say that the government "est en train de prendre l'action-- the government is in the process of taking action. English does not have such a helping expression and a reader needs to realize that the "code words" of take action imply that the action is in the process.
     
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