What is the correct verb to be used in the following places?

1) Teacher Mary A s tuition. Therefore she would take the fees.

2) A student B s tuition.

3) An Exam is "taken" by a student, not "given", but a teacher C s the exam.

In all the places (A,B,C) what should the verb be with respect to the context? "Take" or "Give"?

Also I want to know is there any other such word where "take" and "give" is very hard to guess?

  • 3
    To the downvoters and close voters: Until I read this, I had never really given much thought to how versatile the word take is – we can take tests, we can take money, we can take a guess, we can take a hand in marriage, we can take a picture, we can take a chance, we can take a trip, we can take a bus, we can take notes. It's hard for me to fathom why a question about such a confusing word would be dismissed on a English Language Learners site. Everyone has a right to cast a negative vote, of course, but, in this instance, please shed some light on what's wrong with this question.
    – J.R.
    Jan 27, 2013 at 10:13
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    Note for the record: when I wrote my comment, there were two close votes, and one downvote, but no one had yet taken the time to leave a word of explanation.
    – J.R.
    Jan 27, 2013 at 10:17
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    @J.R. Your argumentation looks very compelling. However, the question suffers another problem, which has been explained (again, in a very compelling manner) by you. It does not indicate a decent attempt to find an answer. However, I believe the Q is salvageable. For example: "I found this1(link) usage. I have checked in this2(link) and this3(link) dictionaries, and it seems a contradiction as per how to use these words. What the truth is?" I'm upvoting it to give a chance for improvement. Jan 27, 2013 at 10:27
  • @bytebuster: I never said the question had no room for improvement; I simply wondered why it was getting such negative attention sans feedback. As for a decent attempt to find an answer, I can easily see how one would have trouble knowing when to use give and take with regards to money. Googling won't help, neither will the dictionaries – but I've already elaborated on that in my answer.
    – J.R.
    Jan 27, 2013 at 10:38
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    @bytebuster: Just so you know, we are in agreement on this for the most part. I rarely implore for explanations for downvotes, and I don't always explain mine. But this one struck me as particularly puzzling. Moreover, I don't see the need for the O.P. to cite the dictionary in this case; the example sentences (i.e., "The teacher takes tuition. The student gives tuition.") already demonstrate the O.P. can use the words IAW the dictionary definitions. Embedding one of those 33 definitions into the question wouldn't add much in this particular instance, but that's just my take on the matter.
    – J.R.
    Jan 27, 2013 at 11:46

1 Answer 1


I wouldn't use take when talking about a tuition payment. Instead, I would use collect:

The bursar collected Mary's tuition.

I wouldn't use give, either, I would use pay:

Mary paid her tuition at the bursar's office.

Although it's worth noting that give and take can indeed be used with regards to money:

Paula gave $3000 to various charities last year.
Sam took $50 out of his checking account before he went to the movies.

For exams, though, give and take are often used:

The professor gave her exam on Monday. Joe was absent, though, so he will take the exam on Friday.

but this is just one meaning of the word take, out of several dozen. OneLook lists, among its many definition's of the word take, this one:

to do an examination in a particular subject

When dealing with flexible words like give and take, it's best to study all the definitions of the word, which is a task that might require you to look in more than one dictionary to complete. OneLook and Wordnik are two great places to start, because they provide links to, or take definitions from, more than one online dictionary.

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