we have a meeting with our customers and I have to take the minutes of the meeting. but can I say the sentences below to express I take the minutes of the meeting? 1. "I have to record the content of the meeting" or; 2. "I have to keep the content of the meeting" They really sounds wierd to me, but the word "record" or "keep" both have the meaning of writing something down in the paper. Could anyone help to tell whether they are native English expression?

Thank you very much!

  • Other than ‘taking the minutes’ of the meeting, it is not uncommon to write more informally of ‘taking/making a note of the meeting’. I have never come across the two expressions you mentioned. Why are you looking for an alternative to ‘minutes’?
    – Tuffy
    Feb 27, 2019 at 17:20
  • You could say "I have to keep record of the content of the meeting." Feb 27, 2019 at 20:56
  • Thank you both, I'm just try to learn different expressions, thanks again for the help:)
    – zyx
    Feb 28, 2019 at 14:13

2 Answers 2


'Keep' does not mean to write down. It means to retain. That's very different from 'record', which usually does mean to 'write down', although in this electronic age there are lots of variants of 'writing down'.

Let's say you get invited to a function such as a wedding. You receive a written invitation in the mail. If you say:

I'm going to record the invitation

then you write down the fact that you received the invitation, and some details of it. You can then throw away the actual invitation card.

If you say

I'm going to keep the invitation

then you retain the invitation card.

Both of the two sentences you propose are correct and make sense. "Record" is probably the best here, because it does mean to write down what you hear.

  • Thank you very much for the help! I got it, but I just refer to a dictionary, an example there for "keep" is "keep a diary". Can I see this meaning as "write down"?
    – zyx
    Feb 28, 2019 at 14:16
  • "Keep" can be used in many different contexts. In your example, "keep a diary" means "maintain a diary", and you do that by "writing in the diary each day".
    – TrevorD
    Feb 28, 2019 at 16:56

English is a funny old language isn’t it?

The confusion with the initial question may be with the word “record”.

In the title to the question, the comparison of “keep” to “record” suggests that both words are to be taken as verbs rather than nouns - as in keep (to retain) and record (long e, accent on second syllable, meaning, in this context, to write down a synopsis of a meeting - sort of.) Notice I used the word synopsis rather than that perfectly good word “record” (short e, accent on first syllable), despite record being a more widely understood word meaning nearly exactly the same thing as synopsis in this scenario.

So “record a record” of the meeting may be as grammatically correct as “take minutes” of the meeting, but it’s just bloody awkward! One would probably find that noun form of record paired off with keep if needing a synonymous phrase for taking minutes. But “keeping a record” of a meeting isn’t quite the same thing as “taking minutes” of that meeting.

You just aren’t going to find a phrase as succinct as “taking minutes”, I’m afraid. Probably because in current popular usage it means precisely one thing - that tedious and unloved task of writing down notes from a meeting for future reference. No ambiguities there. Note: while in this day and age the taking of minutes may be facilitated by a recording device in a meeting itself, there will be, at some point, some poor bloke whose task it is to transcribe a synopsis of what happened and/or was said in that meeting. That “recording” of the meeting is technically “keeping a record”, but the minute taking can’t really be said to have occurred until that transcription is done. In fact, the minute taker may not ultimately be the record keeper! They may hand the (mostly ignored) thing off to someone else whose responsibility is to retain it for future consultation. (Just ask any librarian.)

In this context “minutes” is splendidly precise! Minute suggests small, or even tiny, which leads us to hope that when we need to refer to them in the future they are brief - a short summing up in point form. Synopsis is about the only other word that I can think of that comes close, but it is a bit more vague - minutes and meetings go together like PB&J.

And “take”? Well there isn’t really a suggestion of writing stuff down until “minutes” is paired with it. Just like “keep records” doesn’t have a writing down feel to it like “keeping a diary” does. Too many alternate forms of records these days, while diaries are still pretty much written manually with hearts over the Is by thirteen year old girls. Or typed into a laptop by scientists and would-be celebrities planning on future memoirs.

So there you go. “Keep” and “record” don’t really mean the same thing. And together they just can’t beat “taking minutes”.

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