DO · HAVE · MAKE · TAKE
Many phrases begin with a very common very such as do, make, have, or take : ‘I felt very nervous about taking the test but, after having a long talk with Mrs Fisher, I decided I would just do my best and try not to make too many silly mistakes .’ These verbs can be combined with some nouns but not with others and since they do not have a clear meaning of their own, choosing the right combination can be a problem. Phrases which tend to cause difficulty are shown below.
have a bath (or esp. AmE take ) ‘She’s probably upstairs having a bath.’
Have (your) breakfast ‘We usually have breakfast in the kitchen.’
Have (your) dinner ‘We had dinner and then went for a walk.’
Have a drink ‘I’ll collapse if I don’t have a drink soon.’
Have (an) experience ‘He has no experience of running a large company.’
Have fun ‘You can’t stop people from having fun.’
Have a holiday ‘It’s almost a year since we had a real holiday.’
Have an interview ‘I’ve had six interviews but no one has offered me a job.’
Have a lesson ‘Every morning we have three fifty-minute lessons.’
Have (your) lunch ‘Isn’t it about time we had lunch?’
Have an operation ‘Before I had the operation I could hardly walk.’
Have a party ‘On Saturday we’re having a party.’
Have a picnic ‘If it’s sunny we could have a picnic.’
Have a shower (or esp. AmE take) ‘It only takes me a minute to have a shower.’
Take/do an examination ‘Why do we have to take so many tests?’
Take (your) medicine ‘Don’t forget to take your medicine.’
Take a pill ‘He refuses to take sleeping pills.’
Take/do a test ‘The last test I took was a disaster.’
Make an effort ‘I had to make a big effort not to laugh.’
Make a journey ‘It was the first journey he’d made all on his own.’
Make a mistake ‘He has made a serious mistake.’
Make a noise ‘How can one small child make so much noise?’
Make progress ‘I made very little progress at the start of the course.’
Do your best ‘Don’t worry, Tim. Just do your best.’
Do (or cause) damage ‘The storm did a lot of damage to the crops.’
Do an exercise ‘Have you done your exercises today?’
Do an experiment ‘To do this experiment, you’ll need two eggs.’
Do (sb) good ‘The holiday has done him a lot of good.’
Do harm ‘A scandal would do his reputation a lot of harm.’
Do your homework ‘Have you done your homework yet?’
Do a job ‘I’ve got one or two jobs to do this evening.’
Do the/some shopping ‘Jake has gone into town to do some shopping.’
Do research ‘We need to do a lot more research.’
Do things ‘We’ve done lots of different things today.’
Do your training ‘Where did you do your training?’
Note also: do something/anything etc: ‘I can’t come now – I’m doing something.’ ‘He hasn’t done anything wrong.'
See THAT 3 (↑that)
BAD: As usually, he arrived five minutes late.
GOOD: As usual, he arrived five minutes late.
BAD: The food wasn't the same as usually.
GOOD: The food wasn't the same as usual.
as usual (NOT as usually ): 'John's late as usual.' 'As usual, everyone was out in the garden when I arrived.'
the same as usual (NOT ... as usually ): 'Apart from his hair, he looked the same as usual.'
BAD: On a beautiful day like today it's no use staying at home.
GOOD: On a beautiful day like today there's no point in staying at home.
BAD: It's no use having lessons if you don't want to learn.
GOOD: There's no point in having lessons if you don't want to learn.
Use it's no use/good doing sth when you mean that a particular action will not help to deal with a need or difficulty: 'For spellings, it's no use looking in a grammar book. What you need is a dictionary.'
When you mean that something has no useful purpose, use there's no point in doing sth : 'There's no point in having a dictionary if you never use it.'
BAD: There's no use in waiting any longer.
GOOD: There's no point in waiting any longer.
it's no use ... (NOT there ): 'It's no use complaining.'
there's no point ... (NOT it ) 'There's no point in getting upset.'
BAD: The meals we use to eat are very simple.
GOOD: The meals we (usually) eat are very simple.
BAD: When I'm not busy, I use to play the guitar.
GOOD: When I'm not busy, I (usually) play the guitar.
When you are talking about a present habit, use the present simple tense (NOT use to do ): 'I (usually) have two cups of coffee at breakfast.'
BAD: In my previous job I use to travel a lot.
GOOD: In my previous job I used to travel a lot.
When you are talking about a past habit, use used to do sth (with silent d ): 'Before I had the accident I used to cycle to work.'
BAD: It took me a long time to get use to the local accent.
GOOD: It took me a long time to get used to the local accent.
be/get used to (doing) sth (with silent d ) = be in or get into the habit of doing/hearing/seeing etc something, so that it no longer seems strange or difficult: 'Being a city girl, she wasn't used to sitting on a horse.' 'I didn't like the taste of the water at first, but I'm getting used to it.'
BAD: She began to think she was becoming mad.
GOOD: She began to think she was going mad.
go mad (NOT become ) =: 'Eventually, rejected by Hamlet, Ophelia goes mad and drowns herself.'
BAD: I've always been mad for tennis.
GOOD: I've always been mad about tennis.
be mad/crazy about sth (NOT for ) = (informal) like something very much: 'Why are so many people crazy about computer games?'
BAD: I'm sure that once you see Venice, you'll love it very much.
GOOD: I'm sure that once you see Venice, you'll love it.
love sb (very much ): 'I love him very much.'
love sth (WITHOUT very much ): 'I love tennis.'
BAD: I've applied a one-year course in computer studies.
GOOD: I've applied for a one-year course in computer studies.
BAD: I don't have enough experience to apply to the job.
GOOD: I don't have enough experience to apply for the job.
apply (to an organization) for a job, course, scholarship, etc.: 'She has applied for the post of Senior Lecturer.'
BAD: The new tax law applies only on people with large incomes.
GOOD: The new tax law applies only to people with large incomes.
apply to sb/sth (= be aimed at): 'The club's rules and regulations apply to all members.'
BAD: Dear Mary ... Yours faithfully ...
GOOD: Dear Mary ... Yours/With love/With best wishes ...
BAD: Dear John, ... Yours sincerely ...
GOOD: Dear John, ... Yours/With love/With best wishes ...
Yours faithfully and Yours sincerely are used only in formal letters.
At the end of a letter to a friend or relative, use Yours, With love, With best wishes, etc.
BAD: Dear Sir, ... Yours,
GOOD: Dear Sir, ... Yours faithfully,
When a formal letter begins with Dear Sir or Dear Madam , it usually ends with Yours faithfully .
BAD: He left the house at five in the morning, when the family was yet asleep.
GOOD: He left the house at five in the morning, when the family was still asleep.
BAD: I've only been here two weeks and everything is strange yet.
GOOD: I've only been here two weeks and everything is still strange.
Yet means 'up to the moment of speaking' and is used mainly in questions and negative sentences: 'Do you feel any better yet?' 'The post office isn't open yet.'
When you want to say that an earlier state or situation has not changed, use still : 'I've taken the medicine but I still feel terrible.' 'Does Hilary still go to the same school?'
BAD: I didn't finish my thesis yet.
GOOD: I haven't finished my thesis yet.
Yet (= up to the moment of speaking) is usually used with the present or present perfect tense (NOT the past tense): 'Has the taxi arrived yet?' 'Is the taxi here yet?'
See note at BUT (↑but)
BAD: More houses are built yearly.
GOOD: More houses are built every year.
BAD: Thousands of people die from cancer yearly.
GOOD: Thousands of people die from cancer every year.
Yearly usually means that something is done or takes place once a year: 'The interest is paid yearly or, if you prefer, every six months.' 'The front of the house was getting its yearly coat of white paint.'
Yearly is also used to connect a total number or amount with a period of one year: 'We were manufacturing and selling about 20,000 tonnes yearly.' 'The yearly catch rose to a peak of 52,000 tonnes.'
When you simply want to say that something happens 'all the time', use every year or each year (NOT yearly ): 'The country's tourist industry is growing every year.'
BAD: I've been playing the piano since I was seven years.
GOOD: I've been playing the piano since I was seven.
GOOD: I've been playing the piano since I was seven years old.
GOOD: I've been playing the piano since I was seven years of age.
When stating someone's age, use just a number on its own OR a number + years old/years of age (NOT years ): 'I'm almost eighteen.' 'My sister is fifteen years old.'
BAD: Robert was a little boy of ten years.
GOOD: Robert was a little boy of ten.
a boy/girl/son etc + of + number (WITHOUT years ): 'a child of six', 'a man of fifty'
See AGE 2 (↑age), 6, 7
See OLD 1 (↑old), 2
See RECENT (↑recent)
BAD: The belief that Spanish is easy to learn is wrong.
GOOD: The belief that Spanish is easy to learn is mistaken.
To describe a belief or idea that is wrong although people do not know it is wrong, use mistaken : 'Some people have the mistaken idea that cats need to drink milk.' 'I'm afraid you must be mistaken.'
BAD: I'd like to apologize for not having written you before.
GOOD: I'd like to apologize for not having written to you before.
In British English you write to a person or place (WITH to ): 'Wingate wrote to his father, asking for more money.'
In American English to is optional: 'I'll write (to) you and give you all the latest news.'
BAD: Dear ... I write to you to ask for your advice.
GOOD: Dear ... I am writing to you to ask for your advice.
For actions which are happening at the time when they are mentioned, use the present progressive tense (NOT the present simple): 'I'm writing to tell you that I'll be coming to London next Thursday.'
BAD: Manufacturers should dispense with all unnecessary wrapping.
GOOD: Manufacturers should dispense with all unnecessary packaging.
wrapping (also wrappings ) = paper or paper-like material that is put round something: 'I wanted to tear off the wrapping and see what was inside.'
packaging = the container or material that something is placed in by a manufacturer, especially to protect it or make it look attractive: 'Packaging should be biodegradable and kept to a minimum.'
Note that both wrapping and packaging are used in connection with food: 'Somewhere on the packaging/wrapping there should be a date stamp.'
BAD: Only the driver was wounded in the accident.
GOOD: Only the driver was injured/hurt in the accident.
See note at DAMAGE 1 (↑damage)
BAD: If I would live in the countryside, I would be much healthier.
GOOD: If I lived in the countryside, I would be much healthier.
When you are talking about the present or the future and you imagine something that is untrue or unlikely, use the past tense ('lived') in the if clause (NOT would ): 'If I knew her address, I'd send her a postcard.' 'If I won a lot of money, I'd buy a new car.'
BAD: If you would have caught the earlier train, we could have travelled together.
GOOD: If you had caught the earlier train, we could have travelled together.
When you are talking about the past and you imagine something that is impossible, use the past perfect tense ('had caught') in the if clause (NOT would have ): 'If he hadn't got on the plane, he would still be alive.'
BAD: If you would have any more questions, I'll do my best to answer them.
GOOD: If you should have any more questions, I'll do my best to answer them.
When you are talking about the present or the future and you imagine something that is possible but unlikely, use if ... should (NOT if ... would ): 'If anyone should need me, I'll be back in half an hour.'