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.

  • 4
    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. – FumbleFingers May 3 '17 at 12:50
  • Absolutely: HAVE a cup of coffee at noon. But: Do you drink coffee? [in general]. – Lambie May 3 '17 at 14:07

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.

  • 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 May 3 '17 at 13:37
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    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. – anongoodnurse May 3 '17 at 14:04
  • @Evan Just so you know I haven't downvoted your answer (lol I never downvote anybody). I'm just seeing your answer right now. – devb May 3 '17 at 14:10
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    @Evan Your answer makes much more sense now. Thanks. But gotta say, FumbleFingers comment is actually the best answer here. – devb May 3 '17 at 15:46
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    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 May 4 '17 at 2:31

The most natural thing to say is

take your medicine


drink your {liquid for consumption}

(like juice tea coffee). Using the other sounds weird.

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