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

Level: beginner

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


We use have with:

  have ...
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.

Delexical verbs 1: have



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 of
a turn
the trouble
a chance
a risk
a decision
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.

Delexical verbs 2: take


Delexical verbs 3: have and take



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.

Delexical verbs 4: give



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.

Delexical verbs 5: make


Delexical verbs 6: give and make



We also use go as a delexical verb:

Shall we go swimming this afternoon? Or shall we go for a walk?
Mum and Dad have gone shopping.
We're going dancing tonight. Do you want to come?

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.

Delexical verbs 7: go



We use do 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.

Delexical verbs 8: do


Delexical verbs 9: go and do



I am still getting the confusion on where do i use have like if I completed the repeated action 2 days before then what should I call ' I have completed' or 'I completed' and another question how do I know this is repeated action or normal action.can you please clarify my doubts if there is any links please suggest because it's irritating since the one week..

Hello nagabrahmam,

Your question is about when to use the present perfect ('I have completed') and when to use the past simple ('I completed'). In general terms, the past simple is used for finished events in the past; the present perfect is used for events which are not finished, or which have some kind of present result.

For example, if I want to tell you about something from my past then I would use the past simple:


I completed a course in first aid a few years ago.


On the other hand, if this information is somehow particularly relevant to the present then I would use the present perfect. For example, imagine there is an accident and someone is hurt. I might say:


Let me through. I've completed a course in first aid!


In other words, the past simple tells us about the past. The present perfect tells us why something in the past is affecting the present.


You can read more about the present perfect on this page, this page and this page.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Some of these verbs are also causative verbs. Can you suggest a good website or source which can explain causative verbs well?

Hello Nagma,

We do not recommend other websites as first of all they are generally commercial in nature and also because we can't guarantee the quality of their content. A search for 'causative verbs' will give you many results and you can choose sources with a good reputation such as well-known educational institutions (universities, for example), publishers and reputable media organisations (such as the BBC).


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


I like some help with this sentence.
"Please have John bring back all his toys." The word "have" is a helping verb?, what about the word "bring"? is there a name for this verb? is it suppose to be in 3rd person? "brings"

Hello toddportland,

This is an example of a verb pattern:

have + someone + verb (base form)

I had him open the parcel for me.

We will have them come to our office.

The meaning is to cause someone to do something - it is similar to 'make someone do something'. There are many verb patterns like this:

make sb + verb

let sb + verb

have sb + verb

The 'verb' here is the base form and does not change its form.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Sir ;

I asked the same question on another page. But I think that this is the right page for asking that question. Please ignore the previous question.

The below sentence is correct ?

We should have a proper plan to implement this proposal.

Here I have used "should have" and noun.

Is it possible?.

Hi pumbi,

'Should' is followed by a base form. For example:

I should go.

We should stop.

They should have dinner.

When the main verb is 'have' the phrase is 'should have' but this is not the perfect form.

The perfect form 'should have' is followed by a past participle. For example:

I should have gone.

We should have stopped.

They should have had dinner.

Your sentence is an example of 'should + verb' not 'should have + past participle'.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


Thank you very much for your quick reply. That really "helped" or "helps" or "help"?

Hello toddportland,

We often have a choice of tense, depending on how we see a given action.

The help was in the past so you can say 'helped'.

The help may still be having an effect, so you can say 'helps'.

'Help' would not be grammatical, unless you want to use a noun form and say That was a great help.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team