Typically when we've decided something, we say we've "made a decision". But why is a decision associated with the verb "to make"? Nothing is being made. If anything, it seems a decision should be "done", and associated with the verb "to do".

Why do we make them instead of doing them? Or deciding them?

  • While English has a make/do distinction some languages obviously don't, suggesting a certain degree of conceptual similarity. This may be a sort of liminal case. The metaphor of construction makes sense to me; it's hard for me to think about what we're "doing" while deciding if not "making" something. We also use a spatial metaphor, saying that someone has "come to" or "arrived at" a decision. Possibly meaning a person's mental energies have converged at a point of decision within their own brain, but also allowing that a person's decision overlaps with some external standard. – MDHunter Mar 24 '17 at 11:23
  • 1
    Yes, comparatively more often we are doing decisions, than rarely making or taking decisions. Whenever we decide, we do decide. If you check the graph for make/take decision and decide in Ngram viewer, you can see that we are almost only doing decisions. – mahmud k pukayoor Mar 24 '17 at 11:47
  • Decisions are taken. In 1944 someone took a decision to say "made" instead and it stuck until 1953. books.google.com/ngrams/… – Kris Mar 24 '17 at 12:29
  • 1
    There are several other things we sometimes make rather than do: : announcements, bookings, agreements, proposals, remarks, nuisances, commotions, insinuations etc . – davidlol Mar 24 '17 at 12:54
  • 2
    @Kris - Your ngram link clearly shows that making decisions has always been more popular than taking them. Here's "make decision" vs "take decision" that shows the same trend: books.google.com/ngrams/… – rianjs Mar 24 '17 at 12:59

For me it has more to do with intent vs action. A decision is made but that does not mean that the deed will be done. A decision is a thought process, not a physical action, and it comes before the action is completed. The verb "to do," implies an action with a result or, conjugated, describes an attribute.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.