delexical verbs like have, take, make and give

 

Delexical verbs:
have, take, make, give, go and do

We often use common verbs like have and take with nouns like a shower, a drink:

I took a shower. = I showered.
She had a drink. = She drank something.

We call these delexical verbs because the important part of the meaning is taken out of the verb and put into the noun.

We often put adjectives in front of the noun:

I took a cold shower.
She had a nice, refreshing drink.

The verbs used most frequently in this way are:

have     take     make     give


have

We use have with:

Food and drink: a meal, breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack, a cup of tea
Talking: a chat, a conversation, a discussion, a talk
Washing: a bath, a shower, a wash, a scrub
Resting: a break, a holiday, a rest
Disagreeing: an argument, a dispute, a fight, a quarrel

I had a good breakfast before I left home.
We had a long talk about the problem.
The kids should have a bath before they go to bed.
She generally had a short holiday in July or August.
They had a serious quarrel about their father’s will.

We also use have with nouns formed from verbs:

I think you should have a look at this.
She had a bite of the cake.
I’m thirsty. I’m going to have a drink of water.
I had a listen to that new CD in the car.
They are going to have a swim.
 

Exercise

take

We use take with:

Washing: a bath, a shower, a wash
Resting: a break, a holiday, a rest

I always take a cold shower in the morning.
You look tired. You need to take a break.

and with these words:

care

a turn

trouble

a chance

a decision

care of

turns

the trouble

a risk

a photograph

We took hundreds of photographs on holiday.
Jane always takes a lot of trouble with her homework.

We also use take with some nouns formed from verbs:

I think you should take a look at this.
Let’s take a walk.
They are going to take a swim.

Exercise

Exercise

give

We use give with:

Noises: a cry, a laugh, a scream, a shout, a whistle
Facial expressions: a smile, a grin, a look, a glance
Hitting: a kick, a punch, a slap, a push, a knock, a blow
Affectionate actions: a hug, a kiss, a stroke
Talking: some advice, an answer, some information, an interview,
a lecture, some news, a report, a speech, a talk, a warning

She gave a loud laugh.
John gave a happy smile.
He gave me a nasty kick on the leg.
She gave the children a goodnight kiss and put them to bed.
I have to give a speech at the meeting tomorrow.

 

Exercise

make

We use make with:

Talking and sounds: a comment, an enquiry, a noise, a point,
a promise, a sound, a speech, a suggestion
Plans: arrangements, a choice, a decision, a plan, plans, an appointment, a date

Try not to make a noise.
They made arrangements to meet the next day.

 

Exercise

Exercise

go

We also use go and do as delexical verbs:

Shall we go swimming this afternoon? Or shall we go for a walk?
It’s your turn to do the cooking.
I’ll have to do my hair before the party.

We use go with –ing verbs for common activities:

We usually go walking at the weekend.
He goes running every evening after supper.
Mum’s out. She’s gone shopping.

We use go for a with verbs to do with moving:

a jog     a ride     a swim     a run     a stroll     a walk

I want to get out of here. Let’s go for a walk.
He’s gone for a ride on his bike.

Exercise

do

We use do the with –ing nouns to do with work, especially work in the house:

It’s your turn to do the cooking.
You do the washing up and I’ll do the drying.

and with other nouns to do with work:

I need to do a few jobs around the house.
I can’t come out this evening. I have a lot of work to do.

We use do with nouns when it is obvious what the action is:

I’ll have to do my hair before we go out. = I’ll have to brush my hair.
Have you done your teeth? = Have you cleaned your teeth?

A question like

Have you done the car?

could mean

Have you washed the car?
Have you mended the car?
Have you put petrol in the car?

depending on the context.

 

Exercise

Exercise

Comments

Hello The LearnEnglish Team,

I have a double about the correction of this sentence: Tom and Mary go to take two glasses of water. As I heard somebody said that the verb "take" includes the meaning of "go". It is better to remove the verb "go". Please tell me whether the above sentence is right or wrong. If it is right, please tell the difference between using "go" and not using "go" in this case for more understand. Thank you so much.

Hello thanhphuong,

'take' has several different meanings and many, many uses. Have you looked it up in our dictionary search box on the lower right side of this page? There you can see that one of its primary meanings involves the idea of movement from one place to another.

Your sentence sounds a bit unnatural, but I'm not sure what to recommend because I'm not sure what you want to say. If, for example, Tom and Mary go to a place where there are glasses of water, pick up two waters and then go to another place, your sentence would be correct. But if Tom and Mary are sitting in a room and someone brings some water into the room, sets it on a table and invites them to drink, I'd recommend something like 'Tom and Mary went to get two glasses of water'. (This implies that they got up from their seats, went to the table, picked up glasses of water and returned to their seats.

If you had something else in mind, please describe it and we'll help you understand how to say it.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk,

I found this website by chance and immediately sent my question which I could not found anywhere before. I haven't studied its funtions yet. But I will do.

They gave me some words to make a sentence. So, any expression is ok. Your explanation is clear enough for me. Thank a lot for your help!

Hi LearnEnglishTeam,

Does adding helping verb 'do' with main verb 'have' in sentences become different from sentences having main verb 'have' without any helping verb at all?

Example:
1.I do have friends.
2.I have friends.
3.I do have friends sometimes. ->this with adverb 'sometimes'
4.I have friends sometimes. ->this with adverb 'sometimes'

Can we make out any difference between these sentences?

Thanks and regards,
Nandish

Hi Nandish,

We can add the auxiliary verb in this way when we want to emphasise that what we are saying is true, particularly if it has been questioned in some way. For example:

I have friends.

No, you don't! You haven't got any friends.

I do have friends!

We would not use 'sometimes' in this context, however, as we assume that friendship, by its nature, is constant rather than temporary or fleeting.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Hello dear BC Team,
this lesson is one of the best here for me and really helpfull one. I learnt a lot from it. Thank you for clear explanations!! Anyway I have some doubts and hope you will help me.

First, why should we use delexical verbs when, sometimes, there is a verb that can stand without a noun. For example a) "We had a long talk about the problem" Could we say b)"We talked a lot about the problem". Is the first sentence just to stress that we had a long conversation?

Second, I saw this sentence on internet and it appeared as correct "Do you mind taking a photo for us?" I think it should be "Do you mind taking a photo of us?" -it refers to a question when you ask someone to do a favor for you.

Third, am I right about this.
1) I’m thirsty. I’m going to have a drink of water. (=I am going to drink it)
2)I'm thirsty. I'm going to have a glass of juice. (=I am going to order it, and then I will drink it)

Sory for many questions, these days I practise grammar so I have some doubts to clear it out. If I bother you, please let me know. All the best.

Hello swxswx,

Languages always have several ways of expressing things. Variety allows us to change emphasis, use different styles and avoid sounding repetitive, so it's no surprise that there are different ways of saying the same thing. However, sometimes there is also a difference in meaning. As you say, 'We had a long talk about the problem' suggests one conversation, while 'We talked a lot about the problem' could mean one or multiple conversations.

In your second question, '...for us' would mean helping us, but not necessarily taking a photo with us in it. It could be that the other person is better at taking photos, or is taller, or has a camera and we do not, and so we ask them. If we say '...of us' then we mean that we are to be in the photo.

The third pair of sentences have the same meaning. Both could mean ordering or simply drinking; it depends on the context.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Team learnenglish,
i have learnt that in english there are state verbs,and action verbs.
Please explain this a bit.
I have read that 'have' itself is a state verb,can we use it for expressing actions.
In this example below,
"I have been studying english since a year".
what is the form of 'have' here,action or state?.Also 'studying' may mirror action,but 'have been'?
Please explain it.

thanks,and regards,
Nandish

Hi Nandish,

Some verbs can have various meanings, and can be both state and dynamic depending on the meaning. 'Have' is an example of this:

I have a car. [possession; state]

I'm having a coffee now. [drink; dynamic]

However, in your example 'have' is not a main verb but an auxiliary verb. The main verb is 'stay'; the form is present perfect continuous, which means using 'have been + verbing' - 'have been staying.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Mr.Peter,

Firstly,thanks for the reply.

And i believe 'have been' represents state as an auxiliary verb here in 'have been studying' as would 'am' as an auxiliary verb in 'i am having coffee'.

Also is this construction valid?
have been + participle=have been + studying,for the above example.

Please correct if am wrong.

Thanks,and regards,
Nandish BC

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