I heard that we should use "I want to rest" instead of "I want to take a rest."

I also heard that "I want to take a rest" is not a sentence a native speaker would use. Is that correct? Should we prefer "I want to rest" to " I want to take a rest"?

Could you please confirm if this is true, and explain “why”.

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    possible duplicate (certainly answered, with the link to the British Council_English Grammar article on delexical verbs) of What does “One can easily give it a miss” mean? – Edwin Ashworth Aug 13 '15 at 11:22
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    This is the 50th question, including closed questions, and still not a single answer has ever been accepted. The OP now has an answer from one of the highest rep users on EL&U, I'm curious to see if the OP will even cast an upvote. – Mari-Lou A Aug 13 '15 at 15:13
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    @Mari-Lou, why pressure an OP to accept an answer? The focus should be solely on the quality of the question and answers. That's where the value is. Nothing wrong with "drive-by" OPs who visit the site for information then speed away without further engagement. If the quality of their question is good, we all win. If it's not, the community closes the question. But pressuring an OP to accept an answer, when the highest voted answers will provide greater value to the general public anyway, makes this forum more about personalities and rep count, and less about quality and value. – Michael Benjamin Aug 13 '15 at 18:19
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    It's relevant. We give something back, even if it's an upvote or a down vote. Without anyone casting votes where would SE be? – Mari-Lou A Aug 13 '15 at 18:32
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    possible duplicate of "Take a rest" or "have some rest"? – tchrist Aug 14 '15 at 12:09

Grammatically speaking, both usages are fine, as @Matt points out. But idiomatically it's a completely different story. These figures from Google Books reflect my own gut feel...

1: I want to take a rest - 7 results
2: I want to take a break - 462 results
3: I want to rest - 707 results

The disparity in usage between rest/break in the first two is specific to the verb take, as can be shown by the fact that have a rest and have a break both return about 1500 hits.

I don't think any native speaker would consider the first form "evidence of a non-native speaker", but it certainly seems fair to say that whoever advised OP against using it has some justification.

Apart from this idiomatic preference issue, I think any attempt to apply semantic distinctions is largely pointless. All versions effectively mean the same thing, and are equal in "formality".

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  • @Mari-Lou: Strange. I get 11M / 94M hits on Google Internet for take a rest / break, but on Google Books my figures are just 1840 / 7160 for the take versions with rest / break. I'm always a bit suspicious of GB "guesstimates", but if you tighten the search so it has to actually show all occurrences (will take a break every):14, will take a rest every:2) the pattern seems undeniable. – FumbleFingers Aug 13 '15 at 19:38
  • @Mari-Lou: Perhaps you forgot to put the text in quotes? One that I've been caught out with is ""repeating the quotes"" through use of cut&paste (GB then simply ignores them completely). – FumbleFingers Aug 13 '15 at 20:11
  • No, did you not see the links? The words were in quotes. I have no idea where those figures came from. But I copied and pasted them, and posted them in a comment because they seemed to wildly contradict your findings. Obviously I made some sort of mistake, but it beats me where. – Mari-Lou A Aug 13 '15 at 20:35
  • @Mari-Lou: I did notice that your search strings included the infinitive marker to, but that didn't seem to account for anything meaningful. (If you were an ole fart like me you could put it down to a "senior moment", but in your case I suppose it'll just have to be one of life's little mysteries! :) – FumbleFingers Aug 13 '15 at 20:42
  • I figured out where Google goes wrong. If you search for a phrase within inverted commas, Google will produce (don't ask me how) an estimate. However, as you click the pages ahead, the estimate number drops drastically. This doesn't always happen, but with "dodgy" expressions and collocations, this is more likely to occur. Now, if you refresh the page, a new, and more realistic estimate will be offered. I have noticed this behaviour before, but it's easy to forget, and fall in the trap. – Mari-Lou A Aug 14 '15 at 8:22

Both are fine. "I want to take a rest" sounds a little more informal, and probably would sound a little more natural in spoken conversation.

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Both generally mean the same thing.

However, since you're looking for a way to convey the message as a native speaker, I would recommend you drop both terms and instead use: I want to get some rest.

I want to take a rest

You might say I want to take a rest when you want to rest from doing something.

For instance,

I've been moving furniture all day. I want to take a rest.

Hold on, I just finished a long run, I want to take a rest.

Although, in both cases, it may be more appropriate to say I want to take a break or I want to get some rest.

I want to rest

The term I want to rest is less common.

Saying I want to rest before dinner may sound better than I want to take a rest before dinner, but in either case, I want to get some rest before dinner is more likely to be the preferred choice for a native speaker.

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  • '[N]either represent [sic] the optimal way to convey your message' sounds highly opinionated. Probably, most people would use a degree of hyperbole ('I need a break') or otherwise avoid the 'want to' catenation after just finishing an arduous task ('I'm going for a sit-down now'). 'I want to rest' is certainly unusual; there's a strong connotation of 'Let me!' or at least resignation. 'I want to get some rest' sounds more measured, less panting than 'I want a break' and 'I need a break / rest'. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 14 '15 at 8:51
  • I'm not sure why this answer is downvoted, though: it's got enough good points to at least warrant an explanation by the downvoter. Perhaps it's the bald 'And neither represent the optimal way to convey your message', especially before the answer proper. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 14 '15 at 8:51
  • @EdwinAshworth: Thanks for the feedback. I've updated my answer. – Michael Benjamin Aug 14 '15 at 14:25

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