We use "take" with individual subjects, to mean that the person "takes classes in that particular subject ". But in College, can it be used to describe the "major" chosen, like "medicine" or "commerce"?


I took Commerce in College.

I took Medicine in College.

Does it mean "I studied Medicine in College " or "I chose Medicine in College"? Is the use of "take" common this way in AmE?

1 Answer 1


No, using to take is not a natural way of expressing one's college major in AmE. Note also that "college" is not capitalized unless it's part of the formal name of an institution (e.g., "Dartmouth College").

I took physics in college. This means that I enrolled in one or more physics classes, but leaves my major unspecified.

I majored in physics in college. This explicitly identifies what my major was.

I studied physics in college. This is ambiguous and could mean either it was my major or it was just a class I took. The difference would have to be made in the surrounding context.

In short, take is used for individual courses or classes, not for entire courses of study, where you use the verb to major [in]. For example:

Q: Did you take physics in college?

A: I didn't just take physics, I majored in it!

  • So might be used with "medicine"? Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 18:14
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    As "medicine" is relatively uncommonly discussed as a university course name, "I took medicine in college", without context, sounds like something you did because you caught a cold. Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 18:51
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    I would hesitate to say "I took medicine in college" in case people thought I was sick and required doses of cough syrup. Edit: simultaneous with @scatter. Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 18:52
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    To echo what was said in the second comment, we don't usually use "medicine" or "commerce" in the same way we use "physics" or "chemistry". A doctor might say, "I studied medicine," but wouldn't say, "I took medicine." Also, I've never heard anyone say, "I majored in commerce," but "I majored in business" is very common.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 19:15
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    "Major" is only used for undergraduate studies. You seldom hear people say "I majored in medicine" because "medicine" is not typically an undergraduate degree, it's a professional degree that you study in medical school, not in college. Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 14:12

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