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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



sir, on this page, it is written that "take" is used with "washing and resting". But I have seen "take" to be used with "food and drink" also. Like, He took a meal at a restaurant.


If you look up 'take' in our online dictionary on the right hand side of this page, you will see that it has a lot of different uses. The most common and important ones are listed on this page, but there are others. Your example of 'take a meal' is possible, but rare, which is why it isn't listed here.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

when we say: After doing the washing you need to do the drying
Does the phrase "do the drying" mean "hanging clothes" in this context?

Hello thuynt.ntk,

This sentence sounds a little unnatural to me. You could say 'After doing the washing, you need to hang it out', or, if you have a clothes dryer, ' need to put it in the dryer.

Just in case it's not clear, please note that 'washing up', as in the example sentence above ('You do the washing up and I’ll do the drying.'), refers to washing the pots and dishes that get dirty when you prepare and eat food, not to washing clothes.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Pack it.
Get it pack.
Get it packed..

Do all have same meaning? Plz explain this get.

Hi tagrapankaj,

The first and third phrases are grammatical, but the second one is not. Without context, it's difficult to say for sure, but the first one appears to be a simple command for someone to do something whereas the third one appears to be a causative form. 'get' or 'have' + object + past participle means 'persuade or order someone to do something'.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team


I have a question about the exercise of verb DO (delexical verbs 8, clause 3). In the clause "whenever we have a big family dinner, my mum cooks and my dad ... afterwards". The answer you have chosen is: "does the dishes";
My question is: why is not possible "does the washing-up"? (and so the answer "both: they're the same"). Because I have searched the meaning of both expressions and in the dictionary it seems to be the same meaning, but the only difference that appears is that the expression "washing-up" its informal.
Thank you very much for the answer.

Best wishes,


Ps: If I make lots of mistakes, please, feel you comfortable to correct my phrases and expressions (I'm trying to learn the English language correctly)

Hi Nuras,

Thank you for pointing this out to us. The correct answer should indeed be 'both' for this question and I have edited the exercise to make it so.

Best wishes and thanks again,



The LearnEnglish Team

thank you too for all your help!!

best wishes

sir thanks for adding me to the world of real english language .
i m new to this site and as-well to the english language .
sir i have doubt in my mind regarding be+infinitive .
why we use them ? how one can proper use them ?
your suggestion will really help me .
thanks again for your support