Let's suppose a teacher wants to punish a student and wants to decrease his / her achieved points on a test paper; he would say something to the student; I would like to know which one of the following self-made examples may work here:

  • I have to take two marks of you.
  • I have to take two grades of you.
  • I have to take two scores of you.
  • I have to take two points of you.

For me all the first three mean the same and though the last one is not the same, but works here either. I need to get your feedback.


3 Answers 3


Firstly, you want to say "take [X] off you", or "off of you", not just "of you".

Secondly, preferred usage will differ from place to place. In my answer, I am speaking for Australian English.

I have to take two marks off you.

This is correct. If your score would have been 18 out of 20, but your punishment is to receive 16 out of 20 instead, this is a good way to say it.

I have to take two grades off you.

This is probably not correct. A "grade" is a final or overall result. It typically goes on a short scale like "A, B, C, D, F", or "High Distinction, Distinction, Credit, Pass, Fail", or even just "Pass, Fail". So to "take two grades off" would mean either:

  1. To reduce this result by two steps on the scale (e.g. from B to D).
  2. To entirely remove two results from the student's record. This is a very strange thing to do!

In both cases, this is an awkward way of saying it. If you actually do mean this, say instead "I have to reduce your grade by two steps", or "I have to remove these two results from your record".

I have to take two scores off you.

This is almost certainly not correct. It is like "grade", option #2 (remove two results from the record).

I have to take two points of you.

This is correct. "Points" and "marks" are interchangeable words for "the basic unit of judging an assessment". "Marks" is somewhat more common among people I work with or teach.


These are in fact distinct ideas.

Marks can be mean the same as either points or grade, so I'll talk about both meanings below.

Mark and grade are mostly the same with regional preference, and refer to the final grade/mark given for an assignment or class, such as a 97% or an A. For example, in British English you would be more likely to say "I got good marks this term," but in American English, "I got good grades" is more common.

Parts of a test or assignment are worth points that add up to your total score. For example, you could get 3 points out of 5 on the first question, and 4 out of 5 points on the second, for a total score of 7 points.

Depending on your school system, this score could result in a grade of C.

As I mentioned above, marks can also be synonymous with points, but not that it tends to be used without specific numbers in American English. For example, "you lost marks on that last question" is more common than "you lost two marks on that last question".

Some phrases you might use:

I have to take two points off on your paper
I have to take two points off of your score
I have to decrease your grade
You lost some marks on your test because of what you did


Per the dictionary, the standard choices should be


  1. : a unit of measurement: as
    a (1) : a unit of counting in the scoring of a game or contest
    b : a unit of academic credit


  1. g : a symbol used to represent a teacher's estimate of a student's work or conduct; especially : grade

I often hear of points and marks on test, exams, homework, etc. I even tell my students "I will take points off for X, Y, Z."

So, of the choices provided by OP, I would personally would choose "points" and say

  1. I have to take two points off your exam.
  2. I have to take two points off of your exam.
  3. I have to take two points from you. (If the listener knows we are talking about the exam.)

However, I have worked with students from around the world, and I feel like I have heard some of them use "grades" and "scores" in the manner that I use "points". So like I said earlier, these four words might be equivalent to some people. But going by the dictionary (or standard use per se), your best options are points and marks.

  • Ngram shows no result for "take two bla bla of you". Are OP's sentences natural?
    – Cardinal
    Jul 11, 2016 at 9:29
  • Thank you @max; but why you didn't use any of the other listed words inside of your written examples? Does it mean the most natural one would be point here?
    – A-friend
    Jul 11, 2016 at 9:31
  • @Cardinal Ngram is not always a reliable source for such tiny stuff. ;)
    – A-friend
    Jul 11, 2016 at 9:39
  • @Cardinal Not to me. The only difference I would make is to use "off" or "off of" instead of "of". Other than that I would choose marks or points. "Grades" and "scores" don't sound right to me, but it is possible that in some English speaking places they might use "grades" or "scores" in this manner.
    – Em.
    Jul 11, 2016 at 9:43
  • 1
    @A-friend I meant that I personally would choose "points". So I guess you could say "points" is more natural to me. "Marks" sounds fine too. The other two do not sound right to me, but I can imagine that in some English speaking regions, "grades" and "scores" are used in this manner. The only change I would make is "off of" instead of "of".
    – Em.
    Jul 11, 2016 at 9:45

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