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

have

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

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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
care of
a turn
turns
trouble
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

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Delexical verbs 3: have and take

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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.

Delexical verbs 4: give

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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.

Delexical verbs 5: make

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Delexical verbs 6: give and make

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go

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

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do

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

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Delexical verbs 9: go and do

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Soumis par Tim le lun 05/07/2021 - 01:28

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Hi in the following sentences could someone guide me if the verb is transitive or intransitive. 1) The crow was flying high in the sky. 2) He was jumping on the floor. Going through variation exercises on the internet I came across these and a few more. These two sentences in particular have left me confused. Could someone please guide me as to why the verb in the above sentences are transitive or intransitive.

Hi Tim,

You've already posted this question on another page. Please post questions once only. Multiple posting like this only slows the reply process down.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par HEMAM le jeu 18/03/2021 - 04:11

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Hello Sir We use noun form of verbs only with " have/take " ? we can't say give a look ?

Hello Hemam,

The first sentence of this page doesn't mean that only 'have' and 'take' are used this way; it just gives two examples instead of all of them. If you read further in the explanation, you'll see that 'give' is also used as a delexical verb. There are examples of it being used this way in the table above.

People would understand 'give a look', but it sounds a little odd to me. I'd say 'have' or 'take' with 'a look'.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par xeesid le sam 22/08/2020 - 12:48

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Dear sir, What is the best way to tell someone to give a patient the medicine? 1. Have him take medicine. 2. Make him take medicine. 3. Get him to take medicine. 4. Give him medicine to take. Note the situation please. The nurse for example will give the syrup bottle to the patient, and the patient will himself drink that syrup.

Hello xeesid,

In the context you provide, I think only the second one sounds a little odd as make suggests forcing someone to do something that they do not want to do. Even if a patient is unwilling, the sentence would not be formed in this way in a doctor's surgery.

Note that we would say the medicine in each case.

 

You could also say the following:

Ask him to take the medicine.

Tell him to take the medicine.

 

Most simply, you could say:

Give him the medicine.

The context would make it clear that the patient should take the medicine rather than simply leave with the bottle!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Jostev le dim 08/12/2019 - 06:19

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When did the word ”do” become the meaning ”have” in the phrase, ”Let’s do lunch.” ?

Hello Jostev

I'm not a lexicologist, but I believe this particular expression came in to use in the 1980s. Note that while it does mean 'have lunch', to my ears, at least, it makes the lunch sound like a task. Not necessarily a task that you don't want to do, just that there's some other motivation behind it than just getting together and socialising.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par PAVS le ven 04/10/2019 - 00:14

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Is "take a decision" actually correct? I've read many English blogs where they said is incorrect.

Hello PAVS,

Both 'take a decision' and 'make a decision' are correct. 'Make a decision' is a little less common, but is fine.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par ABDO HASSAN le mar 29/01/2019 - 11:16

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The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered "Man! Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies HAVING never really lived. What's the meaning of having here

Hello Abdo Hassan

Here, 'having' is part of the adverbial participle clause 'having never really lived'. It describes the manner in which such a person lives, i.e. he or she lives without really living. See our participle clauses page for more examples.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Marua le mar 03/04/2018 - 08:56

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Hello. Can we use this expression 'make a right' instead of 'turn right'? And what about 'turn first right' instead of 'take the first turning on the right'?! Thanks.

Soumis par Kirk le mar 03/04/2018 - 17:24

En réponse à par Marua

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Hi Marua,

Yes, 'make a right' is correct and natural. The other two phrases are a bit awkward -- I'd recommend 'take the first right' instead.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par amol le jeu 29/03/2018 - 06:18

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Hello, Can we use "has" to show possession? For e.g, She has a brother. Is the above sentence correct? or "She have a brother" is correct?

Soumis par Peter M. le jeu 29/03/2018 - 08:51

En réponse à par amol

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Hello amol,

You can check the meaning of 'have' in any dictionary.

The third-person form of 'have' is 'has', so for she we use 'has' rather than 'have'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par zakarek le mar 02/01/2018 - 03:46

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Hello LearnEnglish Team. Shall I understand I have a meal. but I have lunch. If yes, so why? 'I have a lunch' would have different meaning/ is archaic/ is uncomm /for some reasons is wrong. In this situation I have English breakfast. or I have an English breakfast. because I understand it should be always I have a huge breakfast. And now to the question than dragged me here in a first place. I am having a tea. but never I am having tea. Am I right? (of course we are talking about small amount brewed tea no uncountable amount of dry leaves, so in meaning 'I am drinking now'). Does American-English change here anything?

Hello zakarek,

Generally, we do not use articles with the names of meals. Thus we say

I'm having breakfast.

We're having lunch together tomorrow.

but we also say

I had a meal before I left, so I'm not hungry.

 

However, when we use an adjective to describe the meal we use the indefinite article:

That was a marvellous dinner, wasn't it?

I'm going to have a huge lunch today. I'm starving!

I love an English breakfast.

 

Both '...tea. and '...a tea' are possible but there can be a difference in meaning:

I'm having tea describes the 'meal', so to speak, rather than the beverage. In other words, this describes the tradition of sitting down to have a cup of tea, perhaps with cake, biscuits or a sandwhich, in the afternoon.

You can also say I'm having coffee with him tomorrow, which would refer to a meeting over coffee rather than a particular drink. Tea and coffee are the only words used frequently in this way; with other drinks we use 'a' (I'm having a beer with her tonight).

I'm having a tea describes the choice of drink. You might say this when choosing something from a menu, or when describing your activity on the phone to someone who cannot see what you are drinking.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par fahri le mer 22/11/2017 - 14:37

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Hello dear team, Nice to meet you here again and ofcourse Thank you very much for your answers. But we have problems about "have". This word really contains "problem" with us. We are need help. Every package have to be returned to the sender. Or Every package has to be returned to the sender. … .. How many mistakes have the teacher found in the class? Or How many mistakes has the teacher found in the class? … Which ones is correct "Have" or "has" ? And why? Thank you very much team.

Hello fahri,

In both cases, 'has' is correct because its subject ('every package' and 'the teacher') is singular. I hope this helps you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par html le ven 29/09/2017 - 06:19

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Based on the explanation above, is it both correct to say "I always take a cold shower in the morning" and "I always have a cold shower in the morning?" If so, is there any difference in the meaning of these two sentences? Thanks

Hello lingskie,

Yes, that is correct. 'take' is more common in American English and 'have' is more common in British English, but both phrases are correct and have exactly the same meaning. 

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par html le ven 29/09/2017 - 05:44

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I am a bit confused with take vs take up especially when using with course in university or college. I usually read on the internet these sentences: I am taking Biology in college and I am taking up Biology in college. But there are grammar books that say, "Never use take up if you are referring to a course that lead to a bachelor's degree. Could you please explain when to use TAKE vs TAKE UP when we are speaking or referring to a course? Thanks.

Hello lingskie,

Generally take up has a meaning of 'start' while take in this context simply means study. For example:

Paul is taking biology at university.

Paul took up photography a few months ago.

 

We generally use take up with hobbies rather than courses of study so we would not generally use it with a university degree course.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par nagabrahmam le jeu 17/08/2017 - 20:55

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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,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par naghmairam le ven 14/07/2017 - 06:16

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

Soumis par Peter M. le ven 14/07/2017 - 07:17

En réponse à par naghmairam

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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,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par toddportland le mar 07/03/2017 - 03:27

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Hello, 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" thanks

Soumis par Peter M. le mar 07/03/2017 - 06:52

En réponse à par toddportland

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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,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par pumbi le jeu 26/01/2017 - 14:22

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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?.

Soumis par Peter M. le ven 27/01/2017 - 10:01

En réponse à par pumbi

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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,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par toddportland le mar 07/03/2017 - 18:35

En réponse à par Peter M.

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

Soumis par Peter M. le mer 08/03/2017 - 07:53

En réponse à par toddportland

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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,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par taj25 le mer 21/12/2016 - 08:33

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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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par taj25 le mar 20/12/2016 - 07:23

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

Soumis par Kirk le mer 21/12/2016 - 07:00

En réponse à par taj25

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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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par amol le lun 05/12/2016 - 14:25

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Hello Why do we use "been" in "perfect-continuous tense?" What does it mean?

Soumis par Peter M. le mar 06/12/2016 - 07:08

En réponse à par amol

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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,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Mirela S le lun 15/08/2016 - 09:47

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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,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par suryachaitanya le ven 08/07/2016 - 14:17

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Sir, 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.

Soumis par Peter M. le sam 09/07/2016 - 07:57

En réponse à par suryachaitanya

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Hello suryachaitanya,

There is a difference, depending on the context. However, this is a large question which I cannot answer properly in the comments section like this. What you are asking is the different between the past simple (sentence 1) and the present perfect (sentence 2). We have a number of pages on each of these, which you can find in the verbs section of our grammar section. Please take a look at the information there and work through some of the exercises and I think you will be able to see the difference.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team