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

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

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? 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. 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.
take advantage To take advantage of something or someone means to profit from the momentary situation of the person or thing.
make amends To make amends means to compensate for a loss or injury.
make an application To make an application means to apply for something. Usually a job, or a bank account, etc.
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. To make an argument for something means to present a logical argument in its favor.
make arrangements To make arrangements means to organise.
make an attempt To make an attempt means to try.
have a baby 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. 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 make the best of 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.
make a bid To make a bid means to make a monetary or economic offer.
take a bite have a bite To take a bite of something means to bite a piece out of it. 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. To take a bow means 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 take and have a break means to rest from work for a short while. 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 To do business means to agree a commercial contract.
make a cancellation To make a cancellation means to cancel.
make certain To make certain of something means to check that something is correct. See also make sure.
take a chance To take a chance means to try something risky. See take a chance.
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 To make a claim is usually applied to legal court cases where damages and retribution payments are claimed from the accused.
take a class have a class, have class One takes a class for a semester or year or the like; to have (a) class refers to a single class session. (Note that to have class can also mean "to be classy, sophisticated".)
make a complaint To make a complaint means to complain about bad service or faulty goods.
make a concession To make a concession means to yield to, or grant a request even though it is not in agreement with the normal rules.
make contact (with) To make contact with someone means to establish communication with them.
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.
do a deal make a deal To do(US) or make(UK) a deal means to make a contract with someone.
make a decision take a decision To make or take a decision is to decide.
make demands on To make demands on someone means to give them a lot of work to do.
make a discovery To make a discovery is to discover something.
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.
make an error To make or commit an error is to err.
an exam 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 take exception To make an exception is to grant a request even though it is not in agreement with the normal rules. 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 justify or explain the reason for an incorrect action. 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. 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 Generally, one does an experiment in a laboratory, and one makes an experiment when one tries out an idea to see if it works.
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.
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 (some) good To do good or some good means to do something constructive or helpful.
have a grudge To have 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 (some) harm To do harm or some harm means to do something destructive, or hurtful, or unhelpful.
make headway To make headway means to progress in the desired direction.
make a heart take heart have a 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.
take someone hostage Means to keep, or retain a person or group of people until a specific demand is met.
make an inquiry To make an inquiry means to ask.
make an investment To make an investment means to invest time or money.
make someone laugh have a (good) laugh To have a laugh is to laugh, 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 To take the lead /li:d/ means to be the leader, or to demonstrate the correct way to do something.
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.
make a loss take a loss To make or take a loss means to lose money on an investment or a bet.
make a meal, make a meal of take a meal have a meal To make a meal (breakfast, lunch, 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 say it or talk about it briefly.
make a mistake To make a mistake is to err.
make a mockery To make a mockery of something or someone is to mock or belittle them.
make a model to make a model means to fabricate or build a model structure.
make money to make money means to gain monetary income.
take a nap have a nap to take or have a nap means to sleep for a short while.
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 a (tele)phone call take a (tele)phone call To make a telephone call is to call another person, to take a telephone call is to receive a call, to be called.
do an operation on someone make an operation To do an operation means to operate medically on someone. To make an operation means to conclude a business transaction.
take an opportunity make 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.
have a party To have a party is to organise an informal event with friends, or to enjoy oneself.
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 someone's argument. To make a point of doing something means to be sure of not forgetting to do it.
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 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.
have a rest To have a rest is to stop doing something.
make sense (of) To make sense means to communicate clearly and understandably. To make sense of something means to understand it.
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 have a break in the middle of a journey.
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 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 and act accordingly.
have a talk to have a talk with someone means to speak with them seriously.
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).
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 have trouble To make trouble means to cause or provoke problems for other people. To take trouble means to be meticulous or careful in how one does an activity. To have trouble means to suffer from errors or problems.
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. See also do one's best.
have words To have words with someone means to tell them off, or to argue with them.
do (some) work make work If you do some work, you are working. You make work (for someone else, or for yourself) when your efforts are counterproductive.
homework, housework etc. Most derivations of work collocate with do.