Take, Took, or Taken: Choosing the Correct Past Tense of “Take”

  • Take” is used for present tense, while “took” is the simple past tense form.
  • Taken” is the past participle and requires an auxiliary verb like “has” or “have.”
  • Proper usage of these forms ensures clear and grammatically correct English communication.

The past tense “took” is used for actions that were completed in the past, whereas “taken” is used in perfect tenses and typically follows an auxiliary verb like “has” or “have.” Knowing when to use each form is a fundamental skill in English and, although it can seem daunting, regular practice and application can make it second nature.

Verb Forms of “Take”

In English, the verb “take” has three central forms—present, past, and past participle. These forms are the building blocks for several tenses in the English language.

The present tense of “take” is used to describe an action that is currently occurring or a habitual action. Here is how “take” can be employed:

  • I take my coffee black.
  • She takes the bus to work.

The simple past tense for “take” is “took.” It is utilized when discussing an action that was completed in the past:

  • They took their time finishing the project.
  • He took a picture of the sunset.

The past participle of “take” is “taken.” This form is often used in perfect tenses and passive voice constructions:

  • The flight has been taken off the schedule.
  • It is taken for granted that the sun rises in the East.

The following tables exemplify these verb forms within various tenses.

Present Tense Conjugation:

PersonConjugation
Itake
Youtake
He/She/Ittakes
Wetake
Theytake

Past and Past Participle Conjugation:

TenseConjugation
Simple Pasttook
Past Participletaken

Using these forms accurately is essential for conveying the correct temporal context in speech and writing. For instance, there’s a clear distinction when saying, “Yesterday, I took the trash out,” versus, “By the time you arrived, I had already taken the trash out.”

It is important to note that “take” is an irregular verb, meaning its past tense and past participle forms do not follow a fixed pattern and must be memorized.

Take, Took, or Taken – What’s the correct past tense of take?

In English grammar, the verb “take” has three main forms when expressing past actions: “take,” “took,” and “taken.”

Present Tense:

  • take: This is the base form and is used in the present tense.
    • Example: She takes notes during every meeting.
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Past Tense:

  • took: This is the simple past tense form of “take,” used for actions completed in the past.
    • Example: They took a break after two hours of work.

Past Participle:

  • taken: When combined with auxiliary verbs (such as “has,” “have,” or “had”), “taken” is used to form perfect tenses.
    • Example: The cookies have been taken from the jar.

The following tables illustrate the verb “take” conjugated in the past simple and present perfect tenses, exemplifying the use of “took” and “taken.”

Simple Past TenseExample Sentence
tookHe took his car to the shop.
Present Perfect TenseExample Sentence
has/have takenShe has taken care to lock the doors.

Bear in mind that “took” is always used without auxiliary verbs, while “taken” requires an auxiliary verb to form the correct tense structure. Using these conjugations properly is vital for clear and accurate communication in English.

  • Incorrect: He has took his time on the assignment. (took should be taken)
  • Correct: He has taken his time on the assignment.

Regular Verbs vs. Irregular Verbs

‘Take’ is an irregular verb, which means its past tense forms do not follow the standard -ed ending that regular verbs do. Below is a table distinguishing between the past tense of regular and irregular verbs:

Regular VerbsPast TenseIrregular VerbsSimple PastPast Participle
to walkwalkedto taketooktaken
to playplayedto gowentgone
to watchwatchedto bewas/werebeen

Contextual Use of ‘Took’ and ‘Taken’

The correct usage of ‘took’ and ‘taken’ heavily relies on context:

  • ‘Took’ is the simple past tense, used without auxiliary verbs:

    • She took the book to her room.
  • ‘Taken’ is the past participle, which requires an auxiliary verb:

    • The book has been taken to her room.

Here are some bullet points to clarify their use in various sentences:

  • He took a photo. (simple past)
  • I have taken my time. (past participle with ‘have’)
  • They had taken the offer before we arrived. (past participle with ‘had’)

Common Mistakes and Clarifications

Even experienced speakers can confuse ‘took’ and ‘taken’. The following table highlights some common mistakes and their corrections:

Incorrect UsageCorrected Sentence
I have took the last cookie.I have taken the last cookie.
She had took her time to decide.She had taken her time to decide.

Remember, ‘tooken’ is a non-standard form and should not be used.

  • Use ‘took’ for actions completed in the past.
  • Use ‘taken’ to indicate an action in the past that relates to another time or action through an auxiliary verb.
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Examples of Verb Take in the Present Tense

The verb take has a straightforward role when used in the present tense. It describes the action of moving something or someone from one place to another or the act of accepting or receiving something. The present tense of the verb take is used to discuss current habits, routines, or universal truths. Here’s how it is employed in various sentence structures.

Singular:

SubjectVerb
Itake
Hetakes
Shetakes
Ittakes

For example:

  • I take the bus to work every morning.
  • She takes her coffee black.

Plural:

SubjectVerb
Wetake
Youtake
Theytake

For instance:

  • We take a moment to reflect before meetings.
  • They take their responsibilities seriously.

Below are examples structured in bullet points to showcase the usage of “take” in the present tense:

  • I take
    • I take a deep breath to calm my nerves.
  • You take
    • You take the lead in the discussion.
  • He/She/It takes
    • He takes time to answer all of his emails.
    • It takes patience to master a new language.
  • We take
    • We take pride in our community work.
  • They take
    • They take a break after two hours of study.

In sentences using the present simple tense of “take,” the context often sets the scene for everyday activities or general statements. It’s important not to confuse this with the present continuous form (am/is/are taking) which implies an action is happening at the moment of speaking.

Examples of “Took” in the Past Tense

The simple past tense of “take” is “took.” It is used to indicate an action that was completed at a specific time in the past. This form is independent and does not require auxiliary verbs. Here are examples that demonstrate its application.

Using “Took” in Simple Sentences:

  • She took her time to finish the painting.
  • They took the bus yesterday.
  • He took a chance and succeeded.

Usage in Questions:

Simple Past Tense “Took”
Did you take the book from the library?
When took you the car for a service?

Incorrect usage:

IncorrectCorrect
He tooked the keys.He took the keys.
They takes a walk.They took a walk.

Using bullet points to list negative forms:

  • She didn’t take the opportunity.
  • They hadn’t taken his advice seriously.
  • I hadn’t taken any photographs during the trip.
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Examples of the past participle taken

The verb “take” has the past participle form “taken,” and it is used with an auxiliary verb. In this section, we provide examples to demonstrate the correct use of “taken.”

Sentences Using “Taken”:

  • She has taken the documents to the office.
  • The cupcakes were taken from the tray before I arrived.
  • The athlete had taken all precautions before the big race.

In Phrasal Verbs:

  • The agreement was taken into account during the meeting.
  • That advice has been taken to heart by many.

With Modal Verbs:

  • They could have taken a different approach.
  • It should have been taken seriously from the start.

In each of these examples, “taken” is used as the past participle in various tenses. Below are two tables illustrating the use of “taken” within the context of perfect tenses and passive voice constructions.

Perfect TensesExample Sentences
Present PerfectThey have taken up new hobbies.
Past PerfectBy the time we arrived, she had taken her seat.
Future PerfectBy next year, he will have taken the exam.
Passive Voice ConstructionsExample Sentences
Present PassiveThe gifts are taken to the children every Christmas.
Past PassiveThe artwork was taken to the museum by the curator.
Future PassiveThe message will be taken to the leader tomorrow.

The usage of “taken” consistently requires an auxiliary such as “have,” “has,” or “had,” and for constructing passive voice, a form of “be” is used.

Remember, “took” and “taken” both relate to “take,” but they serve different grammatical functions with “took” being the simple past tense and “taken” serving as the past participle.

Synonyms of “take”

Capture and seize imply taking by force or with sudden action. Here’s how these synonyms are commonly used:

  • Capture: The army aimed to capture the fort by dawn.
  • Seize: She seized the opportunity to travel abroad.

Another set of synonyms can be used when referring to the act of choosing or picking something:

SynonymExample Sentence
SelectHe will select the best pumpkin for the pie.
PickShe picked the red dress for the evening event.

When “take” means to carry or bring along, synonyms like “bring” and “carry” can be utilized:

  • Bring: Don’t forget to bring your umbrella; it looks like it might rain.
  • Carry: The porter will carry your luggage to your room.

In contexts where “take” refers to accepting or receiving something, synonyms include:

  • Accept: She accepted the gift graciously.
  • Receive: The office received numerous calls today.

To demonstrate the process of consuming food, drink, or medicine, the following synonyms can be used:

SynonymExample Sentence
ConsumeThey consumed a hearty meal.
IngestHe ingested the medication as prescribed.

Origin of the verb “take”

The verb “take” is essential in English, serving various functions and showcasing its flexibility and utility.

The verb “take” has roots in Old English with the word “tacan,” which meant “to grasp or seize by force.” The influence of Old Norse can be seen in the Middle English adoption of “taken,” from the Norse “taka,” affirming the action of gripping or taking hold.

Old EnglishMiddle EnglishOld NorseModern English
tacantakentakatake

In the transition from Old to Middle English, the verb underwent a few transformations, guided by interaction with Nordic languages. The Scandinavians’ extensive influence on English in the middle ages was due to the Viking invasions and subsequent settlements in the British Isles.

  • Old Norse Contribution: The Old Norse verb “taka” closely mirrored the sense of the Old English “tacan.”
  • Evolution to Modern English: The process of standardization over time morphed “tacan” into the contemporary verb “take.”

Etymological Journey:

  1. Old English (tacan) ⇒ Grasp, Seize.
  2. Scandinavian Influence (taka, tok, tekinn).
  3. Middle English (taken) ⇒ To lay hold of.

The linguistic journey of “take” illustrates the dynamic evolution of language through cultural exchange. The shaping of “take” into its present form signifies the blend and shift of linguistic patterns as they adapt to usage and necessity over the eras.

Source

Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of take.” Online Etymology Dictionary.

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