Let's say I am working on my assignments and my friend calls me up. What should I tell him?

I am doing my math's assignment (so I can't come).


I am taking my math's assignment. (similar to taking the exam)

Which of these two is more appropriate here? Or should I say something else?

  • 4
    You used it in your question "working on". Nah, I can't come; I'm working on my math assignment. – Jim Apr 20 '13 at 17:42
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    It's math (AmE) or maths (BrE), but never math's. – FumbleFingers Apr 20 '13 at 20:57
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    There are a few ways you could say this. In addition to "working on" and "doing," you could say "busy with" or "need to finish". But "taking" is not the right word. You bring up an interesting quirk, though, why do we take tests and exams, but not assignments and homework? – J.R. Apr 20 '13 at 23:13
  • I also think that your question is very interesting. Maybe we use "taking" when we talk about something more official (it sounds more official in Polish; in Polish instead of "to take" we use a phrase "przystępować do") and "doing" when referring to something more usual, as assignments and homework? – Paweł Feb 27 '16 at 21:35

Math vs. Maths

It is either math (American English) or maths (British English), but never math's. See this for more about that.

Doing vs. Taking

In regards to a math(s) assignment, "doing" is a better word choice. As used in your question, "working on" is also appropriate. You could also simply say, "I need to finish my homework."


We often use common verbs like have and take with nouns. They are called delexical verbs because the important part of the meaning is taken out of the verb and put into the noun. We often put adjectives in front of the noun as well

in your example "doing" is right because taking implies that you are taking it away with you which isn't case here

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