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



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,


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,

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,


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

Hello Nandish,

'State' and 'dynamic' refers to the whole verb form, not to individual components. The verb 'study' is a dynamic verb; what form it is in does not change this.

We form the present perfect continuous with [have been + the present participle/verb-ing].

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


I have already had a dinner just now.

Do you know I have been known him since 5years.?

Did you get my point?

Please have a wash your foot before go to bed.

When I was young, there was a park over here where we used to play with my friend and enjoyed a lot there.

I was born in 1980.

I have a daughter whose age is 10year old.

Are these correct sentences.

Waiting your reply

Hello Bhuwaneshwar Prasad,

The LearnEnglish team is really here to help users with problems they have with our materials, or to deal with questions which are related to those materials, not to check sentences which are not related to anything on the page (have, take, make and give). For this, you need to find a teacher, really. It's not that we do not wish to help but rather a question of time: if we try to offer this kind of service then we won't have time for anything else as we have many many thousands of users!

Of those sentences two do not have errors:

Did you get my point?

I was born in 1980.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Is this sentence grammatically correct?
''It is my humble submission to you that, due to non cooperation of my partner, the project submission has been delayed."

Hello Piya Ghosh,

To be grammatically correct you would need to change it a little:

It is my humble submission to you that, due to the non-cooperation of my partner, the project submission has been delayed.

However, the sentence does sound extremely formal - perhaps overly so. In modern English a less florid style is preferred and I would suggest something like this would be more natural:

I am very sorry to have to inform you that, due to a lack of cooperation on the part of my partner, the project submission has been delayed.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team