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:
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.
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.
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.
To do business means to agree a commercialcontract. 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 businessopportunity
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.
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.
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".)
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 have is followed by got and an infinitive, it means that one mustperform 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.