Both take and last are used to talk about the amount
of time needed for something. We tend to use take when we
are more in control of the experience and last when we have
little or no control over it. Take suggests more active
involvement and last implies a more passive experience. Thus
we are more likely to say:
- How long does the film last?
~ It's a long one. It lasts (for) over three hours
Compare also the following examples of greater and lesser control
of the action using take and last:
- It takes half an hour to prepare lunch and an hour
to prepare supper usually.
- Dinner lasts for / takes at least ninety minutes when
Henry's at home - there's so much to talk about.
- The five-set match lasted for more than three-and-a-half
hours before the champion went through to the next round 6-3,
3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 6-2. "I didn't expect it to take so
long, but it took me twenty minutes to settle down in the
opening set," he said afterwards.
Note that when we use preparatory it as subject and when it
is followed by a personal pronoun, me, you, her, him, or
them, we have to use take, not last:
- It will take you all day to tidy your room
- it's in such a mess.
- It only takes me five minutes to put my make-up
on now. It used to take me ninety minutes before I got
Like get, take is a very common multi-purpose verb and is used
in many different ways. Here are a few of the commonest:
take (opposite of give)
- I offered him four tickets for Romeo and Juliet, but he only
- The burglars have taken all my jewels. There's nothing
- I'll take a copy of the agreement, if you don't mind.
Then I won't forget anything.
- I'm going to take ten minutes now to explain to you
how this works.
take (opposite of bring) meaning 'carry'
They are opposites in the sense that when we use bring we
are describing movements to where the speaker or listener is located,
and when we use take we are describing movements away from
the speaker/listener. Compare the following:
- She took me to the hospital because I was feeling
- Take an umbrella with you. It's going to rain.
- My secretary always brings me my mail first of all
and then she takes the children to school.
- I took my calculator to school every day until the
maths teacher said: "You needn't bring them any more.
We have enough now for everybody."
take (= have)
- I'm going to take a shower now. ~ Why don't you take
a bath? It'll be more relaxing.
- Let's take a break now. You've been driving for two
hours and you need to take a rest.
- I'm going to take a holiday as soon as my boss gets
back from leave.
- We took a long walk along the seashore every
evening before dinner.
- Take a good look at this and make sure it's
in perfect working order before you decide to buy it.
In all of these expressions with take + noun to describe
common actions, we can use either have or take. Have
is more characteristic of British English whereas Americans would
be more inclined to use take.