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Do You “Make,” or “Take,” a Decision?

Posted in Friendly Philosophy, and Language

I’ve recently noticed — from listening to audiobooks and podcasts — that writers and speakers from the UK often say “take” instead of “make” when talking about decisions.

He took the decision to become a monk.

Will she take the decision to start a new business?

In the US, however, we never take decisions: we “make” them. (Go us?)

To my ear, “taking” a decision is like “taking” a path or road. The options are already there, laid out in front of you, and you have to decide which one to go with.

This makes decisions sound more like choices — you “choose between” the “decisions” that are available for “taking” — which is a topic I’ve talked about before.

If you “make” a decision, however, it sounds like you’re working without guidance. The options aren’t there for you to choose between. You have to come up with the decision yourself. (American individualism, ftw?)

Oddly, however, we also “make” choices here in the US, so our language isn’t philosophically consistent. But everyone already knew that “inconsistent” and “the English language” go together like two things that go together.

For a longer discussion of whether we even have choices/free will, see my papers:


Featured image by Kirk Fisher.

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