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I realise there is a small element of subjectivity, but for the purposes of efficient use of the English language, I wonder if one should say "take a decision" or simply "decide". I feel like many, if not all, uses of "take a decision" could just as easily be said as "decide" but I hear the latter relatively rarely.

My question is, do they mean exactly the same thing?

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Did you mean make a decision? – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Aug 23 '12 at 21:19
Thanks for commenting but not really, because "make a decision" is simply, I believe, the US English version of "take a decision", which is UK English (which I use). – charles.abcam Aug 23 '12 at 21:23
@charles.abcam: I could be wrong, but I doubt it's a US/UK divide. Both sides of the pond make is far more common - but that's because it usually covers more contexts. Making a decision emphasises the process of deciding (as part of which you mull it over, ask advice, etc.). Taking a decision is more about the specific act of selecting one choice over another. – FumbleFingers Aug 23 '12 at 22:44
Do you guys notice Reg? he has completely turned his name upside down:) – Noah Aug 24 '12 at 3:00
@FumbleFingers - you're right, I was playing along with cornbread ninja. I'm sure there is some truth in "take" being more popular in the UK than the US but it isn't as black and white as I put it. – charles.abcam Aug 24 '12 at 6:30
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Decide, make a decision and take a decision all mean essentially the same thing. But they sound increasingly sophisticated, so decide on which you want accordingly.

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Aha, now we are onto something! I like this answer. This might be why politicians and public figures always use "take a decision" and not just the more linguistically efficient "decide". – charles.abcam Aug 23 '12 at 21:42
And if you want to imply long deliberation "arrive at a decision." – StoneyB Aug 23 '12 at 21:44
Fantastic, StoneyB! – charles.abcam Aug 23 '12 at 21:45
Yes, very good, and since you were first to get to the point you win. Any votes in return are always welcome - it was a good question in my view, and an original one on this website. – charles.abcam Aug 23 '12 at 21:52
Thank you, I don't understand the detail of how this site works yet. – charles.abcam Aug 23 '12 at 21:57

Although decide and decision are obviously just different forms of the same root word, I think the noun form emphasises the specific choice made rather than the decision-making process.

Google Books has 2430 "make a decision and stick [with/to it]" but only 441 "decide and stick...", which I attribute to that emphasis.

For more "mundane" choices, we're more likely to use the verb form. So "I can't decide if I want [tea or coffee]" is much more common than any variant involving the word decision.

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Good point. I also think that public speakers such as politicians over-use "[make or take] a decision", and that they could very often simply use "decide". – charles.abcam Aug 24 '12 at 6:05
@charles.abcam: That may be so, but bear in mind politicians often aren't really concerned with the decision-making process itself. They have advisers, civil servants, pressure groups, etc., doing all that for them. Oftentimes, a politician taking/making a decision simply means going public with (and accepting responsibility for) a decision where he personally didn't really "make the choice" anyway. – FumbleFingers Aug 24 '12 at 15:25

Like Cornbread Ninja, I'll assume you mean make a decision.

Make a decision and decide are often used interchangably in my experience.

We need to make a decision on which movie to see.

We need to decide on which movie to see.

I don't think they are exactly the same, however, as they can also be used differently.

I more commonly hear "we need to decide" as a simple statement of fact, whereas "we need to make a decision" often comes with a tone of irritation and desire to resolve a decision process that has stalled or taken too long. Although I suppose anything can be delivered with a tone of irritation.

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Thanks mikeY. Yeah, the irritation thing doesn't cut the mustard, for me! – charles.abcam Aug 23 '12 at 21:31
@charles.abcam Well, I tried to relay my experience and how I have heard things used. It might help in your getting acceptable answers to your question(s) if you indicated UK English usage. – mikeY Aug 23 '12 at 21:40
Yes, sorry - first post! I didn't realise this was primarily a US English-user site – charles.abcam Aug 23 '12 at 21:54

For me, I feel there is mileage for both "make a decision" and "take a decision". The former seems to imply that there is an active effort to create a decision whereas the latter sounds like making a choice from a predetermined set of options. Just my two cents and interpretation, although it probably is the difference between British and US English. (Just as a side note, in French it is usually "prendre une décision" rather than "faire une décision")

Similar to mikeY, both are used interchangeably in my experience but "decide" has a more active feel to it compare to the more passive "take a decision"

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Thanks Kel196. I don't feel like the active/passive justification is valid. Also, this is not a question about whether "make a decision" and "take a decision" are identical. – charles.abcam Aug 23 '12 at 21:37
@charles.abcam Sorry for the digression, focusing more on your question "to decide" and "to make a decision" are the same but I feel the latter stresses the decision making process and sounds "stronger". Other similar verbs that can change its emphasis and feel include "to act" and "to take action", "to contribute" and "to make a contribution", "affect" and "to have an effect on". They have similar meanings but some argue one is stronger, more formal or more sophisticated than another depending on context. – Kel196 Aug 23 '12 at 21:52
Yes, good points. – charles.abcam Aug 23 '12 at 21:53

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