A student of mine once asked me:
What’s the difference between “I took a walk in the park.” and “I walked in the park?”
These sentences mean the same thing but I can see the confusion. I wrote this blog post to help anyone else who has the same question.
“I took a walk in the park.” is using WALK as a noun. The verb in the sentence is TOOK, the past tense of the verb TO TAKE. This answers the question “What did you do?”
“I walked in the park.” is using WALK as a verb in the past tense. This answers the question “Where did you walk?”
Both of these sentences are using the past tense but the sentence grammar and when we use them are different. Keep reading for lots of example sentences plus a video to help improve your listening skills.
TOOK is the past tense of the verb TO TAKE and WALKED is the past tense of the verb TO WALK. The confusion comes from the fact that some words have a noun and a verb form.
When To Use Walked or Took a Walk
Both of these sentences have the same meaning but with a different focus.
- The sentence “I took a walk in the park.” is focusing on what. (What you did.)
- The sentence “I walked in the park.” is focusing on where. (Where you walked.)
It would be fine to answer the first question “What did you do?” with only “I took a walk.” It’s natural to add more information to your answer but it is not necessary.
“I walked in the park.” is not a natural answer to the question “What did you do?”
*The grammar is fine and the meaning is clear but it is not natural in English conversation. As a native speaker, I would never give this answer.
How we can tell if WALK is a noun or a verb
|Noun vs. Verb|
|WALK noun a journey on foot, usually for pleasure or exercise|
|“My wife and I always take a walk after dinner if the weather is nice.”|
|WALK verb to move or go somewhere by putting one foot in front of the other on the ground, but without running|
|“I walk 6 kilometers to school every day.”|
It’s important to identify the difference between nouns and verbs so we can use the correct grammar in our sentences.
How to tell the difference
If we use an article in English (A, An and The are articles) the word that follows will be a noun:
“A banana.” “An orange.” “The watermelon.”
Or a noun phrase
“An old, brown banana.” “A tasty, Naval orange.” “The big, green watermelon.”
(Remember A/An and The refer to only one thing.)
Learn more at my blog post Master English Articles・A, An and The
So if ‘walk’ is used as a noun it will come after an article.
“I took a walk in the park.” – took is the verb in this sentence
BUT a verb comes after the subject of a sentence.
“I walked in the park.” – No article = verb (‘I’ is the subject of this sentence.)
This is true for all words that have a verb and a noun form.
“I want to give you a hug!” – give is the verb in this sentence [In this sentence HUG follows the article A so we know it is a noun.]
“I want to hug you!” – No article = verb [TO HUG is the infinitive form of the verb.]
Did you know that many words with a noun and a verb form are pronounced differently? I wrote a blog post about this with audio and over 70 natural examples. You can see this post here: Noun – Verb pairs with audio
*This also applies to uncountable nouns that have a verb form.
Uncountable nouns don’t use the article a but they can follow the article the. They also follow quantifiers like much or a lot of/lots of. Please look at the following examples with the word SMOKE:
“There is too much SMOKE in this restaurant.” – The quantifier too much is describing the smoke so we know it is a noun.
“I don’t SMOKE anymore.” – ‘Smoke’ follows the sentence subject and doesn’t use an article or a quantifier. Smoke is a verb in this sentence.
You can review English quantifiers at my Much, Many, and A Lot post.
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WALK Verb Forms
The verb WALK has several forms. Please look at the table below.
|TO WALK (infinitive) “I like TO WALK early in the morning. It’s cool and quiet.”|
|WALK (present simple) “I don’t WALK to school in the winter. It’s too cold.”|
|WALKS (present simple third-person singular) “Philip WALKS to his Judo classes. It helps him warm up before training.”|
|WALKED (past simple) “The bus was late so I WALKED to the train station last night after work.”|
|WALKING (continuous) “I saw Dennis WALKING in the park this morning.”|
|Walk is a regular verb. This means the past tense and the past participle both end with _ed.|
WALKED (past participle) “My Dad has WALKED 10 kilometers every day for the past 4 years. Even in the rain and snow.” [Has WALKED is perfect tense grammar]
I TOOK a Walk Meaning
We know from our first example that the noun form of WALK can be used with the verb TAKE. The verb TAKE has several forms. Please look at the table below.
|TO TAKE (infinitive) “After we check in I want TO TAKE a walk around the hotel.”|
|TAKE (simple present) “I TAKE a walk around my neighborhood after breakfast.”|
|TAKES (present simple third-person singular) “Celia TAKES a walk in the park on Sundays.”|
|TOOK (past simple) “It was a beautiful day so my wife and I TOOK a walk before lunch.”|
|TAKING (continuous) “Kevin is not here now, he is TAKING a walk. May I take a message?”|
|TAKE is an irregular verb. |
TAKEN (past participle) “Since I moved to Tokyo I have TAKEN a walk in the park near my house almost every day.” [Have taken is perfect tense grammar]
I WENT FOR a Walk Meaning
We can also GO FOR a walk in English. The meaning is the same as TAKE a walk but GO will be followed by the preposition FOR every time.
|TO GO (infinitive) “I’ve been stuck in the house all day. I need TO GO FOR a walk and get some fresh air.”|
|GO (present simple) “Let’s GO FOR a walk.”|
|GOES (present simple third-person singular) “Steve’s shoes have holes in them because he GOES FOR a walk every morning.”|
|WENT (past simple) “During my vacation in Hawaii I WENT FOR a walk on the beach every day.”|
|GOING (continuous) A: “Where is Bill?” |
B: “He said he was GOING FOR a walk so I guess he is still out.”
*NOTE – This use of GOING is actually a form of the future tense. We use verb ~ing to show a future planned activity. [Future tense post link]
GOING for a walk is not used in the continuous tense, TAKE is more common.
Bill is TAKING a walk now. (OK)
|GO is an irregular verb. |
GONE (past participle) A: “Where is Bill?”
B: “He has GONE FOR a walk I think.” [Has GONE FOR is perfect tense grammar]
English Expression “Take a Walk!”
Take a walk! is a strong or impolite way of telling someone that they need to leave, they should go away.
- The salesman at the store was way too pushy. After 10 minutes of him following me around the store, I finally told him to take a walk.
(Leave and stop bothering me.)
- The same guy kept hitting on Tina all night. Eventually, Tina got annoyed and told the guy to take a walk.
(Go away and leave me alone.)
TAKE A WALK! | English meaning – Cambridge Dictionary
Learn the English Idiom – A walk in the Park
Walked or Took a Walk PDF E-guide
Download your printable PDF E-guide below. (It’s FREE!)↓
Think of 3 more words with a noun and a verb form and write a practice sentence for each word! Write an example in the comments section below so we can all see it.
“Let Tony take the free kick. He kicks like Messi!”
Thanks always to http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/ for clear definitions.
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