After our discussion yesterday about 'take' and 'last', I found this on the BBC Learning English website:. Hope it helps:


Take or last?

Both take and last are used to talk about the amount of time needed for something. We tend to use take when we are more in control of the experience and last when we have little or no control over it. Take suggests more active involvement and last implies a more passive experience. Thus we are more likely to say:

  • How long does the film last?
    ~ It's a long one. It lasts (for) over three hours

Compare also the following examples of greater and lesser control of the action using take and last:

  • It takes half an hour to prepare lunch and an hour to prepare supper usually.
  • Dinner lasts for / takes at least ninety minutes when Henry's at home - there's so much to talk about. 
  • The five-set match lasted for more than three-and-a-half hours before the champion went through to the next round 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 6-2. "I didn't expect it to take so long, but it took metwenty minutes to settle down in the opening set," he said afterwards.

Note that when we use preparatory it as subject and when it is followed by a personal pronoun, me, you, her, him, or them, we have to use take, not last:

  • It will take you all day to tidy your room - it's in such a mess.
  • It only takes me five minutes to put my make-up on now. It used to take me ninety minutes before I got married.