If a teacher teaches a subject teaches a subject, we say "(s)he teaches X". But if a few classes are not about subjects like science or math, like: Sports or SL&LP (Student Leadership and Life Skills Program) etc, can take be used:


He takes Sports (or SL&LP).

And what about other subjects?

He take Science. (or any other subject)

Is the use of "take" natural?

  • Is the 'he' in your examples a teacher, or a student?
    – Johnny
    Apr 19, 2019 at 9:57
  • The subject of the course has nothing to do with whether you can use the verb take. Apr 19, 2019 at 13:12

3 Answers 3


"He teaches SP&LS" is correct. Most people outside of your college won't know what the abbreviation means, but the use of the verb "teach" is fine, even when the subject isn't a traditional academic one, like maths.

Similarly it is correct to say "He teaches sport". But you also have the verb "coach". This is used with a particular sport "He coaches the football team".

If you feel that "teach" is not correct because there is specifically no "teaching", then you should probably use a specific term to describe exactly what the teacher is doing in the classroom. He could be:

Leading the SP&LS discussion group.
Supervising the college disco.
Monitoring the lower school play area.

We might say that a teacher "gives" a lesson, the students "take" it.

  • 1
    From the perspective of one teacher talking to another, it would be perfectly normal in the UK to say I'm taking year six for Physics or similar.
    – MikeB
    Apr 19, 2019 at 12:19

The students take a class, the teacher teaches the class. If you say that someone "takes a class," that means they are in the role of a student.

This is true for math, science, art, and sports (in the U.S., "sport" classes are often called gym class, or, more formally, physical education, which is often shortened to phys ed).

Therefore, I would say:

John teaches phys ed.

Also, if you don't like the verb teaches (presumably because it implies more formal instruction), you could use a generic verb like runs or manages or leads – but don't use takes:

John runs the gym classes.
Dana manages the SL&LP.

That said, some phys ed teachers might take exception to the notion that they aren't really "teaching." As one website says, the core goal of physical education teachers has always been to "help students of all grade levels improve their health and understand the importance of physical education and health."

  • And, if a teacher is sick and another teacher come and teachers us, can "take" be used there or will it still be "teach"? "Your Math teacher is absent , so I'll be teaching you today instead." Or "Your Math teacher is absent, so I'll be taking your math class today." I guess the first one sounds better as "take a class" is usually used for students. Aug 9, 2019 at 14:41

Using the polysemantic verb "to take" in the sense of "learning or studying academic subjects" is very typical.

According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary :


: to apply oneself to the study of

// take music lessons

// take French

According to Oxford English Dictionary :


: Be taught or examined in (a subject)

// some degrees require a student to take a secondary subject’

Though I've found this interesting comment:

"There must be a regional difference in usage. In AusE, a teacher can take a class, and it means the same as 'give a class'. ... It has nothing to do with taking a class from someone else. The taking is the giving. You'll see that several British respondents on this forum agree."

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