I'm confused when to use the words 'take' and 'drink'.

For example,

When we want someone to drink their medicine, we tell them to 'take' the medicine. On the other hand, when we want someone to drink some juice, we say 'drink' the juice, etc.. In both the cases we are telling them to drink something.

Also, is it right to say: "I take a cup of coffee everyday at noon", or would we say "I drink a cup of coffee everyday at noon" ? Which is a better version? What should I keep in mind when deciding to use 'take' or 'drink' ?

Or are they both correct depending on the context in which they are used ? Or does this not make any difference ?

Thanks for your help in advance.

PS Not sure which tag to use so feel free to edit the tag.

  • 7
    Apart from a few quirky usages like Does he take sugar?, we usually only use take instead of eat/drink in contexts where the substance ingested is medicine rather than food, and/or its consumption is part of a regular regime (often, a regime followed for health benefits). For your midday coffee context, take would be just about credible, but it would sound a bit odd to many. If you don't want to use drink, it would be far more common in that context to say I always have a cup of coffee at midday. Commented May 3, 2017 at 12:50
  • 1
    Absolutely: HAVE a cup of coffee at noon. But: Do you drink coffee? [in general].
    – Lambie
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 14:07

3 Answers 3


I think "drink your medicine" would be acceptable, and not strange to hear, provided that the medicine were in liquid form. I would say that "take" is more common because it's more general - it covers pills, etc. as well.

With coffee, you're always going to be drinking it. There's no other method of delivery. However, I also think it would be fine to say "I take a cup of coffee every day at noon" or "I take my coffee with cream."

On the other hand, I can think of at least one scenario where it would be very strange to use "drink" in reference to coffee, whereas "take" would work: when placing an order at a cafe.

  • 1
    I see that my answer has been downvoted. I don't resent this, but I would greatly appreciate an explanation for why my answer is not a good one. I have read the answer guidelines (english.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer), and it's not immediately clear to me which rules I may have violated. I don't think my answer is incorrect.
    – Evan
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 13:37
  • 1
    I am not the down voter. I will guess at an answer, though. People asking (and reading) questions want definitive answers, not one person's guess or opinion. Having sources to back up your answer is important; having high rep sometimes gets you off that hook. Odds are here that someone simply disagrees with your answer. Drop the word "guess", and only answer the question (some people dislike extraneous info, like what to say when placing an order.) Downvotes are no big deal; we all get them. Treat them like a sneeze: it's startling for a moment but "God bless you" is the response. Commented May 3, 2017 at 14:04
  • 2
    @Evan Your answer makes much more sense now. Thanks. But gotta say, FumbleFingers comment is actually the best answer here.
    – devb
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 15:46
  • 1
    I think “drink you medicine” would only be acceptable if it were of a volume sufficient to require a couple of swallows. if it’s just a teaspoon- even though it’s a liquid I wouldn’t talk about drinking it.
    – Jim
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 2:31
  • 1
    English is never simple. "I take my whiskey neat" is almost a set expression; it's possibly a facetious broadening from the medicinal usage. I suspect it came before the common 'I take my coffee black' etc. Commented Jan 1, 2023 at 19:47

"Drinking" is only for liquids. "Eating" is for foods. "Taking" is for medicines or pills, even though they are being swallowed with the help of liquids.

  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Jan 1, 2023 at 21:27

The most natural thing to say is:

take your medicine

(and not 'drink your medicine)

'take your medicine' overwhelmingly more common than 'drink your medicine'

source Google NGrams


drink your {liquid for consumption}

like juice, tea, water.

(rather than 'take your juice')

'drink your juice' rather than 'take your juice'

Source Google NGrams

Doing differently happens sometimes but is unusual and will most likely sound strange (unless the context is very favorable to the other uncommon version).

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