To answer this question you first might want to consider this Ngram.source

In light of this chart, it's apparent that "have a seat" is preferred to "take a seat" as far as modern day AE is concerned.

Could the reason for this be that saying "take a seat" might sound equivocal to some guileless ears, or, more seriously, that "have a seat" sounds like a more polite wording for an invitation?

  • The difference is 2 to 1 in favor of "have a seat"; they're both very common. Also, your Ngram covers things like "if you want to have a seat, you need to get there 15 minutes early", politicians who "have seats" representing districts, and "you have a seat reserved for you". – Peter Shor Mar 1 '14 at 3:44
  • Take means 'come to have' (He took a number; now he has a number), so it participates in many of the same idioms as have. – John Lawler Mar 1 '14 at 3:49
  • @PeterShor it's all fixed now, so you can check out the Ngram again... – Elian Mar 1 '14 at 4:15
  • I suggest this is purely a matter of personal preference. If you think you can explain any difference between "have…" and "take…" a seat please do… – Robbie Goodwin Apr 17 '18 at 21:12

I think of the difference as being 'take up' a seat (not in the sense of pick up, but in the sense of fill up), and 'have use of' a seat as taking advantage of the opportunity to sit down.

In the first, the sense (as borne out by your ngram examples) is of seats being provided specifically for people to use - in a waiting room, an Argos store, a theatre, or an aeroplane - generally in a public or communal situation.

In the second, the sense is more of a private setting, or a personal 1:1 relationship hinted at.

The distinctions are subtle, and some overlap can be seen, but that's how I see the difference between them.


Have a seat sounds more like have a bite have a cake something to do with eating unlike please take a seat sounds more formal n perfect like help urself n be seated n comfortable though all in all have a seat is mostly commonly used .....though it seems incorrect

  • 3
    Please edit your answer to be readable. You've mashed everything together. – Matt E. Эллен Apr 17 '18 at 9:51

You can use both, but you will use HAVE A SEAT

have a seat: it is the polite way to offer somebody to be seated Take a seat: It is more direct and less friendly

  • Welcome to EL&U. When making assertions such as this, you should provide evidence from a quality source, whether in the form of references or examples. I strongly encourage you to take the site tour and review the help center for guidance on what we consider to be a good, helpful answer. For what it is worth, I disagree that take a seat is any less friendly than have a seat when spoken with the same tone and body language. – choster Jan 5 '17 at 22:05

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