‘Taken' vs 'Taking': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on May 28, 2023

Do you need to know the difference between 'taken' vs. 'taking?' If so, this guide will help!

It includes a description of each term, when and how to use it, the definitions, and usage examples.

Before we get started, do you need a quick answer?

If so, here it is: 

  • 'Taken' and 'taking' are forms of the verb 'take.'
  • 'Taken' is the past participle tense form 'take.'
  • 'Taking' is an adjective and the present tense form of 'take.' 

If you want to learn more about the difference between these terms and other past and present tense verbs, keep reading!

What is the Difference Between 'Taken' vs. 'Taking?'

In English, you use prefixes and suffixes to alter the meaning or tense of words. So, the same word can have multiple meanings depending on which form you use.

Both of these words are forms of take. 'Taken' is past tense, and 'taking' is the present tense form of take. 

The forms of take include:

  • Taker - noun
  • Takes - second and third person present tense
  • Took - past tense verb
  • Taken - past participle
  • Taking - present participle

How Do You Know When to Use 'Taken' vs. 'Taking?'

You know that these terms are both forms of take. But how do you know which to use?

  • Use 'taken' when you are speaking in the past tense.

For example, you could say:

The test was taken by all of the students, but only two students passed the exam.

  • Use 'taking' when you are speaking in the present tense.

For example, I might say:

I will be right back. I am going to take the trash out. 

Definition of 'Taken': What Does 'Taken' Mean?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines 'taken' as a past participle form of the verb take that means:

  • To gain control over one's possessions, ideas, or control

It can also mean:

  • Gain possession by killing or capturing
  • To win a hand of cards
  • To gain possession by eminent domain
  • To grasp or grip something so it is under your control
  • To watch or observe a show
  • To transfer into your care
  • Secure for your own use
  • Assuming something that belongs to someone else
  • Adopt control over something
  • Win in a competition
  • Winning a competition
  • To accept the consequences of something
  • To go into or
  • To travel by a method of transportation

Synonyms of 'Taken'

  • Grasped
  • Held
  • Gripped
  • Clasped
  • Snatched
  • Clenched
  • Clutched

Phrases Containing 'Taken'

  • Taken to the cleaners
  • Taken for a fool
  • Taken downtown
  • Taken to the cleaners
  • Taken to you
  • Taken advantage of
  • Taken aback
  • Taken by force
  • Taken away
  • Taken into custody
  • Taken to jail
  • Taken out back

Definition of 'Taking': What Does 'Taking' Mean?

The same defines 'taking' as the present tense form of the verb take, defined as:

  • Acquiring by force

It can also mean:

  • Seizing by force with no prior warning
  • Acquiring through a sudden attack or strategic move
  • To bask in the sun, sounds, or other elements
  • Transferring into your control

Synonyms of 'Taking'

  • Snatching
  • Grasping
  • Holding
  • Hanging on to
  • Catching
  • Seizing
  • Commandeering
  • Nabbing

Phrases Containing 'Taking'

  • Taking your sweet time
  • Taking precautions
  • Taking you serious
  • Taking a timeout
  • Taking home
  • Taking notes
  • Taking the high road
  • Taking the path less traveled
  • Taking the easy way out
  • Taking your turn
  • Taking a test
  • Taking up
  • Taking down
  • Taking advantage
  • Taking your share
  • Taking a break
  • Taking your sweet time
  • Taking care
  • Taking the trash out
  • Taking control
  • Taking it easy
  • Taking the news
  • Taking it one day at a time
  • Taking a leave of absence

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Taken' vs. 'Taking'

By knowing how to pronounce these terms, you will be more confident in using them.

So, let's take a look at the pronunciations: 

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'taken':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to correctly pronounce 'taking'


Sample Sentences Using 'Taken' vs. 'Taking'

Finally, look at the sample sentences below to see the difference between these two terms and how to use them in different contexts.


  • You were taken away from your parents when you were a baby.
  • Have you taken a COVID-19 test recently?
  • After you have taken your test, you are free to go home.
  • It has taken more than 10 years to complete the overpass.
  • Each day I am taken aback by the lack of a response from the representative.
  •  She probably would have lived longer if she had taken better care of herself.


  • Taking control of your life is the best way to ensure your happiness.
  • What clothes are you taking with you on the trip?
  • I know his comments are cruel, but I hope you are taking them with a grain of salt.
  • Which color are you taking with you this year?
  • I am so grateful to you for taking me on this trip. I really needed a vacation.
  • When he disrespects you, he is not taking your feelings into consideration.
  • Taking care of yourself is important if you want to live a long life.


  • Taking the car out before you have taken and passed your driver's license test is illegal.
  • They have taken advantage of us by taking our prized flowers as they walk past.
  • How many times have you taken the test? You know taking it over will not change the outcome.
  • I have been taking care of my grandmother for five years, and she has never taken the time to say thank you.

Final Thoughts on the Difference Between 'Taken' vs. 'Taking'

Now, let's recap what we learned: 

  • 'Taken' is the past tense form of the verb take. 
  • 'Taking' is the present tense form of the verb take.

If you get these two words mixed up in the future or if you have questions about other challenging terms, you can always come back here for a quick lesson. You can also check out dozens of guides on the most misused and mistaken English words and phrases in the confusing words section.

Each post contains valuable usage tips, definitions, grammar rules, and pronunciations to help you expand your vocabulary and improve your writing skills. So, be sure to check them out.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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