You are here

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



Thanks again Peter. that really helped

hi kirk

i am talking about this sentence. " i am going to the bathroom. can you take care of my luggage for a moment" instead of " take care my luggage"

Hello again taj25,

Thanks for clarifying that. I'm afraid I don't know of any list of verbs that are followed by the preposition 'of', though I'm sure you could find some by doing an internet search for 'verbs followed by preposition list' or something similar.

There are a lot of verbs that take prepositions, and for most people the best way to learn them is to make a personal list of them as you encounter them in your reading and studies rather than studying a list someone else has made. Please also note that many verbs can be followed by more than one preposition, e.g. 'care' can be followed by 'for' and 'about', too.

I hope this helps you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

hi kirk

show me where will i want to use "of" which place should be come. i don't know. could you help me.

Hello taj25,

Is this related to the topic on this page or something different? I'm afraid I don't understand your question - could you give a couple of examples, please? Then perhaps I'll see what you're asking about.

Thanks in advance.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team


Why do we use "been" in "perfect-continuous tense?"

What does it mean?

Hello amol,

Please visit the page on this topic and post your question there. This page is titled Delexical verbs: have, take, make, give, go and do. 

It helps other users if questions are on relevant pages, as they can then see the answers. It also may be the case that if you look at a page related to your question then you may find the answer.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,I am a little bit confused of something.I noticed that when making a sentence about topics that have to do with resting (holiday to be more specific)in the theory it says that we should use the delexical verb "have" and after I took the test ,apparently it is correct to also use take,so both "have a holiday" and "take a holiday" are correct or it depends?Thank you in advance :)

Hello Mirela S,

Both 'take a holiday' and 'have a holiday' are used and in most contexts are interchangeable.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Please clarify the below.

1) I did not consider it.
2) I have not considered it.

Is there any change of meaning or way of speaking. I feel the same between them.