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: 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: I utterly hope you won't be angry with me.
GOOD: I sincerely hope you won't be angry with me.
BAD: I have to make sure that our customers are utterly satisfied.
GOOD: I have to make sure that our customers are completely satisfied.
Utterly is usually used with words that have a negative meaning or express strong disapproval such as (adjectives) ridiculous, absurd, irrelevant, useless, wrong, impossible, (adjectival participles) confused, amazed, dejected, ruined, (verbs) reject, detest, destroy : 'This new tin opener is utterly useless.' 'The whole idea is utterly absurd.' 'I'm utterly amazed.' 'The entire building was utterly destroyed.'
BAD: Honestly, we didn't play very well in the final.
GOOD: To be honest, we didn't play very well in the final.
BAD: Honestly, I don't really like her husband.
GOOD: To tell you the truth, I don't really like her husband.
Use honestly when you want someone to believe that what you are saying is really true: 'I honestly don't mind where we go, as long as we go somewhere.' 'I was going to give it back to you, honestly.'
To show someone that you are about to tell them your own true feelings about something (especially feelings that you usually keep secret), use to be honest (with you), in all honesty, to tell (you) the truth, (quite) frankly or to be frank : 'In all honesty, I'll be glad when the children are back at school.' 'To tell you the truth, I don't think that the marriage will last long.'
BAD: I honestly say that I haven't seen anyone work so hard.
GOOD: I can honestly say that I haven't seen anyone work so hard.
I can honestly say (WITH can ): 'I can honestly say this is the worst film I've ever seen.'
BAD: I daren't to ask her for any more money.
GOOD: I daren't ask her for any more money.
daren't do sth (WITHOUT to ): 'I daren't tell George what happened or he'll be furious.'
Compare: 'I don't dare tell/to tell George what happened ... .'
BAD: As far as I concern, the cost of the repair is not my responsibility.
GOOD: As far as I'm concerned, the cost of the repair is not my responsibility.
as far as sb/sth is concerned : 'As far as my parents are concerned, I'm free to come whenever I like.' 'As far as the law is concerned, you are innocent until proven guilty.' 'As far as your grammar is concerned, you seem to be having a problem with tenses.'
BAD: You should concern more about your health.
GOOD: You should be more concerned about your health.
BAD: There are far more serious things to concern about.
GOOD: There are far more serious things to be concerned about.
be concerned about sth (= be worried or anxious): 'The government is becoming increasingly concerned about the rising level of unemployment.' 'The manager is naturally very concerned about the recent spate of injuries.'
BAD: The first chapter is concerned about the disposal of nuclear waste.
GOOD: The first chapter is concerned with the disposal of nuclear waste.
GOOD: The first chapter concerns the disposal of nuclear waste.
be concerned with sth OR concern sth = (of a book, film, essay etc) be about a particular subject: 'The article is concerned with recent developments in primary education.'
BAD: Some dentists are more concerned in earning money than doing a good job.
GOOD: Some dentists are more concerned with earning money than doing a good job.
be concerned with (doing ) sth = be interested in: 'We should be more concerned with re-educating criminals than punishing them.'
DUBIOUS: Taking all the above into account, one could say that tourism does more harm than good.
GOOD: Taking all the above arguments into account, one could say that tourism does more harm than good.
Instead of using the above as a loose reference to something mentioned earlier, make the reference more precise by using the above + noun (or the + noun + above ): 'the above reasons', 'the statement above '.
BAD: He likes reading, above all novels.
GOOD: He likes reading, especially novels.
Above all means 'most importantly': 'Get plenty of sleep, eat lots of good food, and above all try to relax.' 'There were many qualities that made him a great leader. Above all, he had charisma.'
BAD: There were above a hundred people in the crowd.
GOOD: There were over a hundred people in the crowd.
Do not use above with numbers (unless referring to points on a scale): 'He is over eighty years of age.' 'I receive over twenty letters a day.' Compare 'Don't let the temperature get above thirty degrees.'
BAD: This year English is above all my most important subject.
GOOD: This year English is by far my most important subject.
With a superlative form ('the most important'), use by far : 'The riot was by far the most horrific scene I'd ever witnessed.'
DUBIOUS: I like to stay at home on a Sunday, as I've said above.
GOOD: I like to stay at home on a Sunday, as I've already said.
DUBIOUS: What do you think of the above suggestion?
GOOD: What do you think of my/this suggestion?
Above is used in formal writing to refer to something that has been mentioned earlier: 'From the above arguments it can be seen that supporters of the dam project fall into two camps.' In informal styles, this use of above is inappropriate.
BAD: Where would you like to go above all?
GOOD: Where would you like to go most of all?
When you mean 'more than anywhere/anything/anyone else', use most of all or the most : 'What worries me most of all is that the car is not roadworthy.' 'The one I liked the most was too expensive.'
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: 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'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 history of the town dates back to the Middle Age.
GOOD: The history of the town dates back to the Middle Ages.
middle age = the period in a person's life between youth and old age: 'People who live this type of life are lucky if they reach middle age.'
Middle Ages = the period in European history from about 1100 to 1500 AD: 'Life in the Middle Ages was very simple.'
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: I don't agree the people who say women should stay at home.
GOOD: I don't agree with the people who say women should stay at home.
BAD: In many ways I agree to his statement.
GOOD: In many ways I agree with his statement.
agree with sb/sth = have the same opinion as: 'You can't expect everyone to agree with you all the time.' 'I tend to agree with you that the proposal is too risky.'
BAD: I don't understand why he doesn't agree the divorce.
GOOD: I don't understand why he doesn't agree to the divorce.
BAD: Conservationists will never agree the building of the motorway.
GOOD: Conservationists will never agree to the building of the motorway.
agree to sth = be willing to accept or allow something: 'The bank manager has agreed to our request for a loan.'
BAD: I am agree that archaeological treasures should be protected.
GOOD: I agree that archaeological treasures should be protected.
BAD: In some ways I am agree with those who want stricter punishments.
GOOD: In some ways I agree with those who want stricter punishments.
Agree is a verb (NOT an adjective).
See FACT 4 (↑fact)
BAD: The cost of life is very high in London.
GOOD: The cost of living is very high in London.
BAD: During a recession, some people find it difficult to make a life.
GOOD: During a recession, some people find it difficult to make a living.
Phrases connected with the idea of money end with living (NOT life ): 'Salaries have not kept up with increases in the cost of living.' 'It's difficult to earn/make a living as an actress.' 'Acting is fun, but I wouldn't want to do it for a living.'
BAD: Television has taught me a lot about the American life.
GOOD: Television has taught me a lot about the American way of life.
DUBIOUS: This busy type of life allows us no time to sit down and relax.
GOOD: This busy lifestyle allows us no time to sit down and relax.
way of life = the way that a society, group or person chooses to live: 'I found the British way of life very strange at first.' 'The computer has transformed our whole way of life.'
lifestyle = way of life, especially that of a particular person: 'As a photographer, she has a very hectic lifestyle.'
BAD: The life in the countryside is quiet and relaxed.
GOOD: Life in the countryside is quiet and relaxed.
BAD: He didn't enjoy the life in the army at all.
GOOD: He didn't enjoy life in the army at all.
When life means 'the way of life that is connected with a particular type of situation, group or occupation', it is usually used without the : 'I found city life too stressful.' 'Life in New York is full of excitement.' 'What do you think of married life?'
BAD: He was the most attractive man that I had met in my life.
GOOD: He was the most attractive man that I had ever met.
When a superlative ('most attractive') is followed by a relative clause, use that ... ever ... (NOT that ... in my/her etc life) : 'It was the best holiday we'd ever had.' 'This is the worst film I've ever seen.'
BAD: It was one of the happiest days in my life.
GOOD: It was one of the happiest days of my life.
superlative ('happiest') + noun + of your life (NOT in ): 'She refers to her childhood as the most carefree time of her life.'
Compare: 'One of the most important things in life is good health.'
BAD: On Saturday nights there is usually life music at the club.
GOOD: On Saturday nights there is usually live music at the club.
live = heard or seen while it is actually being played or performed: 'Tonight's live concert comes from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.'
BAD: Although I enjoyed my stay in the USA, but I was still glad to come home.
GOOD: Although I enjoyed my stay in the USA, I was still glad to come home.
GOOD: I enjoyed my stay in the USA, but I was still glad to come home.
If the first clause begins with although or (even) though, do not begin the second clause with but or yet .
See also SO 2 (↑so)