‘Took’ vs ‘Taken’: What’s the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on April 24, 2023

The difference between 'took' vs. 'taken' can confuse experienced writers and English language learners. So, if you have ever gotten stumped when trying to decide which to use, you are not alone. That is why we create this guide to teach you the definitions, proper usage, and pronunciation of each.

Need a quick answer?

Here it is: 

  • 'Took' is the past tense form of the verb take. 
  • 'Taken' is the past participle form of the verb take. 

While both are forms of the verb take, they have different sounds, meanings, and usages. So, you use 'took' and 'taken' similarly but not interchangeably.

When to Use 'Took' vs. 'Taken'

'Took' and 'taken' are both forms of the word take. However, 'took' is the past tense form of the verb take, and 'taken' is a past participle of the same. So, it can act like a verb or adverb, depending on the context.

So, how do you know which to use and when?

  • Use 'took' when you want to communicate that someone has taken, grasped, stolen, laid claim to, controlled, extracted, or withdrawn something.

For example, I could say:

                     I felt excluded because you came in and took control of the entire project. 

  • You use 'taken' as a past preposition of take to imply that something was grasped, used, seized, confiscated, or claimed.

For example, someone could say:

It has taken everything in me not to lose my mind during the merger. 

So, you use 'took' to describe the past action of someone or something taking something. You typically use 'taken' with auxiliary verbs like has, had, being, was, and were. 

How to Use 'Took' and 'Taken'

So, you now know that 'took' is:

  • A past tense verb of the word take.

For example:

  • You 'took' advantage of her situation by charging a higher price because you knew you were the only option.

You also learned that 'taken' is:

  • A past preposition typically used with auxiliary verbs that indicate an action that 'took' place in the past.

For example:

  • Being 'taken' advantage of is a horrible feeling. You feel hopeless and naive at the same time.

You can also use both forms in a sentence, like:

  • He took his anger out on her after she was taken advantage of by a scammer who stole all of the money they saved.

As you can see in the example above, you do not need to use an auxiliary verb when you use 'took' but was proceeds 'taken' to create the perfect past tense.

Definition of 'Took': What Does it Mean?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary states that 'took' is the past tense form of 'take,' and means:

  • To take something

It can also mean:

  • To seize
  • To confiscate
  • To commandeer
  • To steal
  • To hold
  • To take away

Phrases Containing 'Took'

  • Took a harsh stand
  • Took advantage
  • Took aside
  • Took off
  • Took up
  • Took control
  • Took me for a ride

Definition of 'Taken': What Does it Mean?

Alternately, 'taken' is a past preposition form of take, and it means:

  • Grasped

It can also mean:

  • Held
  • Captured
  • Confiscated
  • Put in a position

Phrases Containing 'Taken'

  • Taken to the cleaners
  • Taken advantage of
  • Taken over
  • Taken aside
  • Taken down
  • Taken aback
  • Taken back
  • Taken apart

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Took' and 'Taken'

Now that you thoroughly understand the definitions and how to utilize 'took' and 'taken,' you may be wondering about the proper pronunciation of the two words.

So, here is a short guide. 

To ensure you are pronouncing 'took' correctly, use this phonetic spelling to sound it out:


To correctly pronounce 'taken' use the phonetic spelling:


How to Use 'Took' and 'Taken' in a Sentence

Finally, let's look at examples of 'took' and 'taken' in sentences.


  • She took every precaution to ensure that her house was safe during the summer storm.
  • He took advantage of the summer sale to get the things he needed.
  • It took forever to get through the line.
  • You took the road less traveled. There were a few bumps on the road, but it paid off.
  • Checking in took longer than we expected.
  • She took time off work because she was under the weather.
  • I feel like he took advantage of my soft-spoken nature.


  • Were you taken off guard by the new company moving in next door?
  • I know someone has taken advantage of you, but you can't treat others badly due to one negative experience.
  • The derogatory comments were taken with a grain of salt.
  • Only professional resumes will be taken seriously by the hiring manager.
  • You must have taken the long route because we arrived much earlier than you.

Final Advice on 'Took' vs. 'Taken'

You should fully grasp the difference between 'took' vs. 'taken.'

However, to recap:

  • 'Took' is a past tense form of the verb take that means to take into your possession. 
  • 'Taken' is also a past form of take. However, it is a past participle that is frequently used with auxiliary verbs, like has, had, was, were, been, and be.

Whether you are a writer working to improve your craft or an English language learner, these two words can trip you up occasionally. So, if you forget how to use them in the future, revisit this guide for clarification. You can also learn about other confusing words and phrases here.

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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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