Appendix:Collocations of do, have, make, and take

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This appendix lists collocations of the verbs make, do, take, and have.

In many of these usages the verbs are "light verbs" that lend relatively little semantic content. Other light verbs include: give, pay, put, raise, offer.

For people who are learning English, or even who speak it moderately well, these four verbs present difficulties when it comes to many collocations. For example, what about the shopping? Is it do the shopping, or make the shopping? How about photograph (see picture)? Do a photograph or make a photograph? Neither! You should take a photograph... and so on. This appendix is an attempt to clear up some of the most common doubts and errors.

This is not a definitive list. The intention is orientative. All the following nouns and expressions can, of course, take other verbs. The four options do, make, take, have are in the sense of doing the activity. Have, for instance, normally indicates possession, but that is not the sense of the verb as used in each of the collocations listed in this table. To have a bath, for example, does NOT normally mean to possess a bath. In each case, the idea of the verb is to do the activity.

Readers of this appendix are strongly recommended to read the main entry for the noun or expression to check for correct usage and meaning.

Contributors are encouraged to place Usage notes into this appendix similarly, and also into the collocate's main entry, such as:

  • We normally do the shopping.
  • We normally make or take a (tele)phone call.
...and so on, along with the Appendix: link to this page.



do make take have notes
take action To take action means to act positively and decisively to resolve a problem. (light)
take advantage, take advantage of have an advantage To take advantage of something or someone means to profit from the momentary situation of the person or thing. To have an advantage means to be in a better position than someone else.
make amends To make amends means to compensate for a loss or injury.
make an application take an application To make an application means to apply for something. Usually a job, or a bank account, etc. (light). To take an application from someone means to allow someone to apply to you or to a party whom you are representing.
make an appointment have an appointment To make an appointment means to organise a meeting with other people. To have an appointment means you are to participate in a meeting with other people.
make an argument have an argument To have an argument with someone means to argue with that person. (light) To make an argument for something means to present a logical argument in its favor.
make arrangements To make arrangements means to organise or arrange. (light)
make an attempt To make an attempt means to try, to attempt. (light)


do make take have notes
make a baby have a baby To make a baby is, informally, to engage in sexual intercourse, leading to impregnation. To have a baby is to give birth, to produce a child.
make a bath take a bath have a bath To take or have a bath is to bathe oneself. (light) To make a bath is to prepare a bath to the right temperature.
make the bed, make one's bed To make the or one's bed is to arrange its sheets and covers nicely and rectify any disorder that was caused by sleeping in it.
do one's best, best make the best of have the best If you do your best, it means you have acted correctly and that no-one can expect more from you. To make the best of a situation means to take as much advantage as possible from a bad situation. See take advantage. To have the best is to be in possession of the best of something.
make a bid take bids To make a bid means to bid, to make a monetary or economic offer. (light) To take bids is to solicit offers from several competitors, with the intention of accepting the best bid.
take a bite have a bite To take a bite means to bite. (light) To take a bite and to have a bite both mean to eat a quick, light snack.
make a bow take a bow To make a bow means to bow. (light) To take a bow means to bow (light) or to accept applause. See take a bow.
make a break take a break have a break To make a break means to try to escape, to break. (light) To take and have a break means to rest from work for a short while, to break. (light) To have a break (more often get a break) also means to be lucky.
make a breakthrough have a breakthrough To make a breakthrough means to make an important discovery. To have a breakthrough means to realize something about oneself.
do business make business take business have business To do business means to agree a commercial contract. To have business with someone means to have matters to be settled with that person. To take business is to deprive a competitor of a customer by acquiring that customer. To make business is to create a business opportunity


do make take have notes
make a cancellation have a cancellation To make a cancellation means to contact the person you have an appointment with and to be the person who cancels it.

To have a cancellation means that a person who had an appointment with you told you they would not make the appointment, often with the implication that the time will then be available to someone else so they can be seen sooner than they would have been otherwise.

take care, take care of have a care To take care means to be careful. To take care of someone or something means to look after it. See also take care.

To have a care means to be careful because you are upsetting someone.

make certain To make certain of something means to check that something is correct. See also make sure.
take a chance, take chances have a chance To take a chance means to try something risky. See take a chance. To have a chance means to have some possibility of success.
make a charge take charge To make a charge for something means to request money for an item or service; it can also mean to make an accusation. To take charge of something is to assume authority over it.
make a claim take a claim have a claim To make a claim is usually applied to legal court cases where damages and retribution payments are claimed from the accused. To take a claim is to have someone submit a claim to you. To have a claim to or on something is to be entitled or potentially entitled to it.
do a class take a class have a class, have class To do a class means to teach a single class as an instructor. To take a class means to attend a class as a student for a semester or year or the like; to have (a) class refers to either attending a single class session as a student or teaching it as an instructor. (Note that to have class can also mean "to be classy, sophisticated".)
make a complaint take a complaint To make a complaint means to complain about bad service or faulty goods (light). To take a complaint means to have someone submit a complaint to you.
make a concession To make a concession means to concede, to yield to, or grant a request even though it is not in agreement with the normal rules. (light)
make contact (with) To make contact with someone means to establish communication with them or contact them. (light)
make conversation have a conversation To make conversation means to start a conversation with someone with no other aim than to talk and break the silence. To have a conversation means to converse. (light)


do make take have notes
do a deal make a deal take a deal To do (UK) or make (both US and UK) a deal means to make a contract with someone. To take a deal means to accept a contract or agreement that someone offers to you.
make a decision take a decision To make or take a decision is to decide. (light)

Make is about 50 times more common in the US; 7 times in the UK.

make demands on To make demands on someone means to give them a lot of work to do or to impose a burden on them.
make a difference
make a discovery To make a discovery is to discover something. (light)
do the dishes To do the dishes is to wash dirty dishes, cutlery and so on by hand.
take a dump To take a dump is to defecate (vulgar slang).


do make take have notes
make an effort take (a lot of) effort To make or put forth an effort is to try. An activity takes a lot of effort when it is very difficult to do, or is strenuous.
make an enquiry To make an enquiry means to ask or inquire. (light)
make an error To make or commit an error is to err. (light)
take an exam have an exam When students take, complete, sit for (UK), or sit (UK) an exam, test, or quiz, they are tested to demonstrate knowledge or competency; educators (UK) set or (US) write it (create it for students to take) and then (US) give it (have the students complete it). To have an exam is to be given it.
make an example of To make an example of someone is to punish someone to disuade others from repeating the offense. See make an example of
make an exception (for) take exception, take exception to To make an exception is to grant a request even though it is not in agreement with the normal rules. To make an exception for is to except. (light) See also make a concession. To take exception to something means to be offended by something, usually something that is said. See also take exception.
make an excuse, make excuses have an excuse To make an excuse means to excuse, to justify or explain the reason for an incorrect action. (light) To have an excuse means to have a good reason for an incorrect action, whether it is stated or not.
do some exercise, do some exercises take exercise To take (some) exercise means to exercise the body. (light) Do needs a quantifier. To do some or an exercise means to exercise the body. To do an exercise can also mean to resolve a problem set in a class.
do an experiment make an experiment To experiment Generally, one does an experiment in a laboratory, and one makes an experiment when one tries out an idea to see if it works. (light)


do make take have notes
do a (UK) favour, (US) favor To do a favour means to help someone with no thought of reward or payment.
make a fortune To make a fortune means to amass wealth.
make a friend; make friends with To make friends is to strike up or start a new friendship or become friends.
make fun of have fun To make fun of something or someone is to mock or belittle them. To have fun is to enjoy oneself.


do make take have notes
do (some) good make good To do good or do some good means to do something constructive or helpful. To make good has a number of meanings, including to put right.
have a grudge To have a grudge (also to hold a grudge or bear a grudge) is to maintain a negative feeling against someone or something because of a previous wrong against oneself by that someone or something.


do make take have notes
do (some) harm To do harm or some harm means to harm, to do something destructive, or hurtful, or unhelpful. (light)
make headway To make headway means to progress in the desired direction.
make a heart take heart have a heart, have heart To make a heart is to create the shape of a heart. To take heart is to be cheered up. To have a heart is to be generous. To have heart is to be courageous or persistent.
take someone hostage Means to keep, or retain a person or group of people until a specific demand is met.


do make take have notes
make an inquiry To make an inquiry means to ask, to inquire. (light)
make an investment To make an investment means to invest time or money. (light)


do make take have notes
make someone laugh have a (good) laugh To have a laugh is to laugh (light), or to enjoy laughing with friends. To make someone laugh is to do or say something that causes that person to laugh.
take the lead have a/the lead To take the lead /li:d/ means to be the leader, or to demonstrate the correct way to do something. Also to gain the lead position in a competition. (light) To have a lead means to have the lead position. (light)
make a list To make a list means to write a list.
take a look have a look To take or have a look at something means to look at it (with purpose). (light)
make a loss take a loss To make or take a loss means to lose money on an investment or a bet.
do lunch make lunch have lunch To do lunch is to have a lunchtime meeting with someone, typically at a restaurant. To make lunch is to prepare food for lunch. To have lunch is to eat lunch.


do make take have notes
make a meal, make a meal of take a meal have a meal To make a meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc) means to prepare the food for that meal. To make a meal of means to spend more time and energy on some task than it warrants. To take a meal and to have a meal mean to eat the food. (Note: do lunch with someone or have a working lunch means to eat lunch with someone while working at the same time.)
make (a) mention of To make (a) mention of something is to mention it, to say it or talk about it briefly. (light)
do the messages take a message have a message, have a message for s/o To do the messages is an expression used in Scotland, Ireland and Northern England meaning to do the shopping, to buy groceries. To take a message is to write down or record a message given (e.g. by a telephone caller) for someone who is absent. To have a message for someone is to wish to convey a message to someone (or to be in possession of a message one is to give to someone on another person's behalf). To have a message means that a message taken in one's absence is awaiting one.
make a mistake To make a mistake is to err.
make a mockery of To make a mockery of something or someone is to mock or belittle them. (light)
make a model (of) to make a model means to fabricate or build a model structure. To make a model of {something} means to model it, to build a model of it. (light)
make money to make money means to gain monetary income.


do make take have notes
take a nap have a nap to take or have a nap means to nap, sleep for a short while. (light)
make a noise To make a noise is the act of creating a sound that can be heard
make notes take notes To make or take notes is to write the notes, usually to record on paper what someone is saying.
make note (of) take note (of) To make note or to take note is to note or notice (something).
do a number, do a number on someone take a number To do a number is to perform an act, usually a song; to take a number is to take a position in a queue. To do a number on someone is to cheat or trick them.


do make take have notes
do an operation on someone make an operation have an operation To do an operation means to operate medically on someone. To make an operation means to conclude a business transaction. To have an operation means for someone to medically operate on you.
make an opportunity take an opportunity have an opportunity To take an opportunity means to the same as take advantage of a situation. To make an opportunity means to arrange things to your advantage. To have an opportunity means to be at the right place at the right time to do something advantageous.


do make take have notes
have a party To have a party is to organise an informal event with friends, or to enjoy oneself.
make a (tele)phone call take a (tele)phone call To make a telephone call is to initiate a call to another person, to take a telephone call is to receive a call, to be called. To have a telephone call is to participate in a phone call, without reference to who made the phone call. In technical usage, initiating a call is referred to as placing a call.
take a picture To take a picture means to capture an image using a photographic camera.
make a plan have a plan To make a plan is to develop an idea, to have a plan is possess, generally in one's mind, an idea that is ready.
make a point, make a point of doing s/t take someone's point have a point To make a point means to state a logical argument. To have a point means to have a valid argument. To take someone's point means to accept or at least acknowledge someone's argument. To make a point of doing something means to be sure not to forget to do it, to do it consciously to ensure one does not forget.
make progress To make progress is to advance.
make a promise to someone take someone's promise To make a promise to someone is to affirm, or vow, to do something without fail. To take someone's promise means to accept at their word that they will keep their promise and act accordingly.


do make take have notes
do research To do research is to try to discover something new by doing experiments. Also it means to discover information by checking through factual books and magazines.
take a rest have a rest To take or have a rest is to rest, or to stop doing something.


do make take have notes
make sense (of) To make sense means to communicate clearly and understandably. To make sense of something means to understand it. To have sense means to be sensible.
do the shopping To do the shopping means to go to the local shops to buy household needs such as food, clothes, cleaning things, and so on.
make a stop To make a stop means to take a break in the middle of a journey.
have store of To have store of means to store something or to have something in storage.
take a shower have a shower To take or have a shower means to wash one's body under a shower to get clean.
make a suggestion take someone's suggestion have a suggestion To make a suggestion means to present an idea to another person or group for their consideration. To take someone's suggestion means to accept the idea they have presented. To have a suggestion means to have an idea to present. In the past tense it can mean the same as made a suggestion.


do make take have notes
do a talk have a talk To have a talk with someone means to speak with them seriously. To do a talk means to give an oral presentation or lecture
make tea take tea have tea To make tea (or coffee, etc) is to prepare the drink. To take tea and to have tea both mean to drink some tea (or coffee, etc), with taking tea suggesting a more formal event. To have tea with someone implies that it is a social meeting or break, accompanied by conversation. In the UK, to have (one's) tea can also mean to have the evening meal.
do a test take a test have a test To do a test is the same as to do an experiment. For take and have, see the notes for exam.
do time make time take (one's) time have time To do time means to be a prisoner in prison. To make time for an activity means to arrange one's agenda so that there is enough time to do that activity. If something takes time it means it is not quick to do. To take one's time means to be slow and careful in doing something. If one has time it means one does not need to make time to do an activity.
make trouble take trouble, take the trouble to have trouble To make trouble means to cause or provoke problems for other people, especially conflict or fighting. To take trouble means to be meticulous or careful in how one does an activity. To take the trouble to do something is to do something, especially generously for another person, that one did not necessarily have to do. To have trouble means to suffer from errors or problems.


do make take have notes
make war To make war means to start a war against someone or something.
do the washing-up To do the washing-up means to wash the dirty plates, dishes, cutlery, and so on after a meal.
do well If you do well, it means you have acted correctly and the best you can, or that you are prospering. See also do one's best.
make a wish If you make a wish, it means you express, often silently, a desire for some particular outcome.
have words / a word To have a word or words with someone is to tell them off or to argue with them. To have a word with someone could be a gentle rebuke or request without hostility, but to have words means there is hostility and quarrelling. You can request Can I have a word with you? but not Can I have words with you?
do (some) work make work have work If you do some work, you are working. You make work (for someone else, or for yourself) when the task is needless or your efforts are counterproductive. To have work is to be employed, or (also to have work to do) to have tasks that require completion.
do homework, housework etc. Most derivations of work collocate with do.

General differences among English light verbs[edit]


In light-verb constructions "make" implies an active role by the subject, who causes something new to occur or come into existence from pre-existing material or a pre-existing situation or the normal course of events.


"Take" implies an active role by the subject, but no change in the object except for its ownership.


"Do" implies that the subject is active, but fitting into a pre-existing role. In addition do is often used when someone performs an action, activity or task.


"Have" implies a greater degree of passivity and no causation.


When used with a participle, it implies a change from a state without the action of the verb to a state with it. For the present participle that means starting to do the (intransitive, continuous) action of the verb. For the past participle that means receiving the action of the verb.

When used with an infinitive, it means that one is allowed to perform the action of the verb, or to assume the state of a stative verb.

When have is followed by got and an infinitive, it means that one must perform the action of the verb, or to assume the state of a stative verb. In other words, it's exactly equivalent to have and the infinitive. In informal, proscribed usage, the word have is left out in the present tense. In such cases, the only way to tell this from the past tense of the get-and-infinitive construction above is through the context.



"Give" implies a degree of activity by the subject, but also the involvement of a recipient.