What is the difference between Have a look and Take a look (meaning/connotations)? For example:

Have a look at the question.

Take a look at the question.

For some reason I only found first version, but Google Translate suggests second one.

  • 3
    I'd say both are the same, even in past tense they both mean the same I had a look at your document v I took a look at your document. Let's see if there's a slight connotation difference someone can point out.
    – JoseK
    Apr 27 '11 at 6:07
  • 3
    From usingenglish.com/forum/ask-teacher/… [Two people are sitting at a table, each reading different newspapers. One sees an article that would interest the other.] Have a look at this [Two people are sitting at separate tables, at opposite ends of a room. The one who says Take a look at this knows that he's asking the other person to get up and walk across the room.] I don't agree with this link though.
    – JoseK
    Apr 27 '11 at 9:41

The difference between "have a look" and "take a look" is geographical rather than semantic. The former phrase is usually used in the UK, whereas the latter is usually used in the USA. (I am an American who has lived in the UK for 24 years.)


If I really wanted to stretch my imagination, I might see "Take a look" to be just a smidgen more aggressive sounding.

I think for all practical purposes they are equivalent in meaning, as they would be for have/take a shower, have/take a drink, etc.

  • 11
    Perhaps more polite. "Take" is certainly a more forceful and commanding word than "Have". When someone tells someone to "Take" something it sounds more like an order, whereas telling someone to "Have" something sounds more like an offering.
    – Phoenix
    Apr 27 '11 at 10:32
  • 4
    I don't think it makes a real difference in terms of politeness. If you want to be more polite, rephrase it with 'Could you...?' or 'Would you mind...?', turning it from an instruction into a request.
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Apr 27 '11 at 10:43
  • 2
    To expand more upon that, I'd say that "Take" would be used more where there is no option to refuse or it is required, whereas "Have" would be used more when there is. So, a police officer brings you in for questioning and tells you to "Take a seat" (if they don't just straight out command you to "Sit down"), but if you go over to a friend's house they ask you to "Have a seat." (though they could use "Take a seat" as well) Or you go to the DMV (or some place where there is a queue) and they tell you to "Take a number" because it is required to take a number to get in line to be called up.
    – Phoenix
    Apr 27 '11 at 10:44
  • 2
    In conversation, however, the difference between "Take a Seat", "Have a seat", and "Sit down" would all be in the tone of voice used. You could use "Have a seat" in a commanding or threatening manner, or "Sit down" in a jovial, offering manner. In pure text with no voice though, a straight command like "Sit down" would be more forceful than "Take a seat" which in turn would be more forceful than "Have a seat."
    – Phoenix
    Apr 27 '11 at 10:52
  • 5
    Perhaps you could say that take a look has more of a slight connotation of request or command, whereas have a look sometimes indicates permission. In most cases it doesn't matter, though. Apr 27 '11 at 13:21

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