Sunday, January 22, 2012

Collocations: have and take

Image: 'Day 092/366 - To Do List
A collocation is a combination of words that occurs frequently enough to be recognized as a common combination. When learning a foreign language, it’s really useful to learn collocations instead of single words, because they are much easier to remember and, by using them, you will sound more natural and people will understand you more clearly.

In a previous post we saw the collocations with do and make. Today we are going to see when to use have or take. The difference here is not so straightforward, because sometimes both verbs can be used and, in other cases, Americans use take while British people use have with the same meaning.

Have can be used with object nouns to refer to a number of different activities. In these cases, the verb has little or no meaning by itself, that’s why it is known as a “delexical verb”. In American English take is used instead of have when referring to common activities such as washing, resting, eating or drinking:

  • Have/take a holiday/vacation, a rest, a nap,
  • have / take a shower, a bath...
  • Have/take a meal, breakfast, lunch, dinner, a drink...
He has taken a bath...literally!!
Image credits
Sometimes both verbs can be found with no change of meaning on both sides of the Atlantic:
  • Have/ take a break
  • have/ take a bite (eat something)

Apart from these cases, have and take can be found in the next collocations:

a good time, fun, a laugh, a partycare (of)
a talk, a chat, a conversation, a word with a decision
a baby (give birth)exercise
a problem, difficulty in, troublenotes
a relationshipa taxi, a cab, a train, a bus...
an excusea look
a grudge against someonean exam
worka photo, a picture
a (nervous) breakdowna risk
a headache, interest in

In all these cases have is not an auxiliary verb, so we need do /does /did for questions and the negative. Besides, it is never used with got, and it cannot be contracted (‘ve / ‘s).
* We hadn’t lunch yesterday.
We didn’t have lunch yesterday.
*I have got a talk with my brother about that issue.
I have had a talk with my brother about that issue.
*I’ve dinner at home every day.
I have dinner at home every day.
On the other hand, it can be found in any tense, even the progressive or continuous tenses.
She is having a baby next month. (present continuous)

Now you can try these exercises:


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