Sometimes, however, verbs rely on the nouns that accompany them for their meaning. When this happens, we call such verbs ‘delexical’ (or ‘light’) verbs. Verbs with little meaning: delexical verbs. There are a number of very common verbs which are used with nouns as their object to indicate simply that someone. Bath and chance are not verbs. “*Take a choose” is grammatically incorrect since choose is a verb. To make it grammatically correct you can.

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These verbs have very little meaning when they are used in this way. For example, ‘had’ in ‘She had a shower’ has very little meaning in itself. Most of the meaning of the sentence is carried by the noun ‘shower’. They are called delexical verbs, and the structure which consists of a delexical verb followed by a noun group is called a delexical structure.

Here is a list of verbs which are used as delexical verbs. The first four vebs very commonly used in this way. Delexical structures are very common in current English. Although the total number of delexical verbs is small, they include some of the very commonest words in the language.

Delexical structures contribute to the impression of fluency in English given by a foreign user. For example, the verb ‘look’ means almost the same as ‘have a look’. When the word is a verb, as in ‘I looked round the room’, you are focusing on the action of locking. When you use the word as a noun in a delexical structure, dflexical are naming an event, something which is complete.

This structure often seems verbss be preferred to a structure in which the dwlexical has greater prominent which corresponds to the delexical structure is often intransitive. A couple were having a drink at a table by the window. There are some count nouns which are almost always used in the singular after a delexical verb. Here is a list of these nouns:. Note that these words are more commonly used as verbs in the language as a whole.

The newspaper had made disparaging remarks about his wife.

For example, ‘She gave a scream’ suggests that there was only one quick scream, whereas ‘She screamed’ does not suggest that the event was brief.

It is more common, for example, to say ‘He gave a quick furtive glance round the room’ than to say ‘He glanced quickly and furtively round the room’, which is felt to be rather clumsy and unnatural. Benn made a sincere personal appeal to the Committee. These legends hold a romantic fascination for many Japanese.


Sometimes there is such a verb, but the form is slightly different. Work experience allows students to make more effective career decisions. In other cases, there is no corresponding verb with a similar meaning at all and so there is no other structure that can be used.

He had been out all day taking pictures of the fighting. The Americans had a nonchalant belief in their technological superiority. His work was to take photographs while flying over Germany.

Mr Korwin takes a protectionist attitude towards women who, he claims, look for someone to take care of them. The Government fought against suggestions that it should take full blame for the affair. Here is a list or nouns which are used after ‘take’. The first set of nouns are count nouns; the second set of nouns are uncount nouns or always either singular or plural:. Some of these nouns refer to verbal or facial actions. Using ‘give’ with one of these nouns often suggests that the action is involuntary or that it is not necessarily directed at other people.

For example, ‘She gave a scream’ suggests that she could not help screaming. Another group of nouns are often preceded by an indirect object because they describe activities which involve someone else, apart from the subject. The Oxford poetry professor is required to give a lecture every term. Lord Young will be giving a first-hand account of the economic difficulties the Russians are struggling to overcome. Sir Stephen Brown has given warning that conflict over the plans could lead to a constitutional crisis.

English lesson: Delexical Verbs

The delexical structures using a lot of these nouns are closely related to reporting structures, which are explained in Chapter 7. There is usually a related verb which can be used followed by a reported clause. Allen remarked that felexical times he thought he was back in America. The cricketers made a public protest against apartheid. She was greeted by supporters protesting that Reagan had betrayed his allies. The Bank of England signalled that there would be no change in interest rates.

Verbs with little meaning: delexical verbs

One candidate resigned, deciding that banking was not for her. Here is a list of nouns which are used after ‘make’ and have a related reporting verb:. Other nouns used with ‘make’ express speech actions other than reports, or describe change, results, effort, and so on. McEnroe was desperate to make one last big effort to win Wimbledon again. It was put to him that he was making a serious charge against Mrs Thatcher. A Harvard scientist was once allowed in to have a peep. Verbs with little meaning: We were having a joke.


Roger gave a grin of sheer delight. He took a step towards Jack. She made a signal. She signalled for a taxi. A few students were drinking at the bar. She gave an amused laugh. He gave a vague reply. They replied to his letter. There are also some verbs which are transitive. I had a glimpse of the speedometer. I glimpsed a bright flash of gold on the left. He gave a little sniff. I sniffed the room. Comis took a photograph of her.

They photographed the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. She made a remark about the weather. She gave a cry when I came in. I might take a stroll. Here is a list of these nouns: She took little ladylike sips of the cold drink. He took photographs of Vita in her summer house.

We have made progress in both science and art. Cal took charge of this side of their education. Sutton gave a shout of triumph. Zoe gave a sigh of relief. He gave a laugh. He gave a long lecture about Roosevelt. She had a good cry. Dwlexical Prime Minister decided she had heard enough. He made the shortest speech I’ve ever heard. Iain spoke candidly about the crash. That is a very foolish attitude to take. She made a number of relevant points. Try not to make so much noise.

The following examples show nouns which are used after ‘have’. They have a desperate need to communicate. She had had a good cry. Let’s delxical have a quarrel. We could have a talk. Here is a list of nouns which are used after ‘have’: He was taking no chances. She was prepared to take great risks. Davis took the lead in blaming the pilots. The vdrbs set of nouns are count nouns; the second set of nouns are uncount nouns or always either singular or plural: The young cashier gave a patient sigh.

He gave a shrill gasp of shock.