< Do You 'Take Note' or 'Make Note'?
By Alice Bryant
16 July 2021

This week on Ask a Teacher, we answer a question from Galmesa from Ethiopia:


Dear VOA, I have a question for you. At school I usually get asked the difference between the phrases "take note" and "make note." Would you tell me? -Galmesa, Ethiopia


Hello Galmesa! You say that you are often asked about these phrases at school. It sounds like you might be an English teacher. Am I right? In any case, you ask a good question.

The phrases "take note" and "make note" are sometimes interchangeable. But there are small differences between the two phrases.

Take note

When used as an idiom, or expression, the phrase "take note" means to notice something. If you take note of something, you pay special attention to it because you think that it is important or has value. We often use this phrase in commands and questions. Listen to some examples:

If you are driving this afternoon, take note of the weather. We saw a warning on the news for storms in the area.

Did you take note of how they made the metal handicrafts?

But if you add an -s to "take note," the meaning changes. "Take notes" means to write something down for the purpose of remembering it. People often take notes in classes and meetings, and at talks or other events when they want to recall information later. Listen to this how this speaker uses the phrase:

I watched an excellent program about the symbiosis of sea creatures. I even took some notes.

Make a note of

Now let's move to our next phrase.

The usual wording in American English is "make a note of," which means to write or record something quickly as a reminder. So "make a note of" has a similar meaning to "take notes."

You might also hear the phrase "make a mental note." It means to make a special effort to remember something in your mind. For example, a person might say:

I will make a mental note to pick up the materials on my way home.

And that's Ask a Teacher for this week.

I'm Alice Bryant.

Alice Bryant wrote this lesson for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.


Words in This Story

phrase – n. a group of two or more words that express a single idea but do not usually form a complete sentence

interchangeable – adj. capable of being used in place of each other

handicraft – n. an object made by skillful use of your hands

symbiosis – n. the relationship between two different kinds of living things that live near and depend on each other

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