Midday English Challenge: Choose and Decide (Part 1 of 2!)

Hey guys!  A day or so ago I tweeted an English challenge, asking what the difference between “choose” and “decide” is.  I didn’t receive any answers, so I thought I’d go ahead and explain the difference myself!

First, let’s start very objectively and look at the grammatical aspects:

Verb forms: choose/decide

Noun forms: choice/decision

What types of verbs are they?

Choose is usually a transitive verb: S-choose(s)-O

Decide is usually an intransitive verb: S-decide(s)-on-O

Both verbs can be used with the infinitive form:


Some examples:

  • I choose the red dress (instead of the blue one).
  • I decided on a color for my hair.
  • I choose to stay single.
  • I decided to get married.

Now let’s look at the noun forms:

Choice and decision are usually count nouns.  However, they sometimes collocate differently.

  • He gave me a choice. O
  • He gave me a decision. X
  • He put me to a choice. X
  • He put me to a decision. O
  • You have a choice. O
  • You have a decision. O
  • I have so many choices. O
  • I have so many decisions. O
  • There are so many choices. O
  • There are so many decisions. X
  • I have to make a choice. O
  • I have to make a decision. O

As you can see, there are some differences!

Now let’s talk about the important stuff: the meanings!

Do decide and choose mean different things?  Yes they do!  Do decision and choice mean different things?  Yes they do?

So what are some differences?


Definition: select/decide from limited or established options.

Example sentences:

  • I chose answer B for question 13.  Do you think that’s correct?
  • I can’t choose which pair of shoes to wear tonight!
  • Which dress should I choose for my wedding?  I like these three…


Definition: select/choose from options by eliminating some.

Example sentences:

  • I can’t decide where to go for vacation this year.
  • How do people decide what to study in college?
  • I still haven’t decided on where I’m gonna study English.

So if you know what your options are, and if they are small, use “choose”.  If there are lots of options or you don’t know how many they are, use “decide”.

Also (this is important!), when you choose something, it usually means you go with your feeling: whichever feels best, you select that one.  However, when you decide something, you use a very rational process to eliminate other options and select a final one.  So the first one is a little more emotional, the second is a little more rational.


Definition: want, desire


  • If it came down to my work or you, I choose you.
  • I choose to be happy.

Choose can also mean that you want or desire something, that something is very important or a high priority for you.  Decide doesn’t mean this.


Definition: conclude, judge

  • Have they decided (on) a winner yet?
  • That last goal decided the match.

Decide can also mean to select something based on judgment or evaluation, or to end something.  Choose does not mean this.

Check out the blog again tomorrow where I’ll be talking about the noun forms (choice and decision).  Have a great night!


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