Dummy Verbs

Have you ever repeated a word too much that made you think How boring it got! You can use dummy verbs instead of repeated verbs.

"Dummy Verbs" in English Grammar

What Are Dummy Verbs?

Some verbs are often used in combination with specific nouns:

Jessica took a breath = Jessica breathed.

Carlos is having a drink with his best buddy. = Carlos is drinking with his best buddy.

These verbs are called dummy verbs (also known as delexical verbs) because the primary meaning of the verb is derived from the accompanying noun.

Common Dummy Verbs in English

The most common dummy or delexical verbs in English are:

Dummy Verb: Take

'Take' as a dummy verb can be used with different nouns, such as:

  • take a shower/a bath/a wash
  • take a break/a rest
  • take a breath
  • take care/care of
  • take turn
  • take a seat
  • take a chance/a risk
  • take a photograph

I usually take a bath in the evening.

He takes a shower every day.

Dummy Verb: Make

'Make' as a dummy verb can be used with different nouns, such as:

  • make a mistake
  • make a decision
  • make a phone call
  • make an effort
  • make a suggestion
  • make a point
  • make a mess
  • make a start

Stop making such a mess!

You're making too much noise. Don't make a sound!

Using the Dummy Verb 'Go' in a Sentence

Dummy Verb: Have

'Have' as a dummy verb can be used with different nouns, such as:

  1. to have a meal/a breakfast/a lunch/a dinner/a cigarette/a drink
  2. to have a chat/a conversation/a discussion/a talk
  3. to have a bath/a shower/a wash
  4. to have an argument/a dispute/a fight/a quarrel
  5. to have a meeting/a party/a concert
  6. to have a baby

Won't you have a drink before you go?

We're having a party on Saturday.

Dummy Verb: Give

'Give' as a dummy verb can be used with different nouns, such as:

  • to give a cry/a laugh/a punch/a slap
  • to give a hug/a kiss/a stroke
  • to give advice/information/a lecture/a speech/a warning
  • to give a permission/a chance
  • to give examples/directions

Let me give you some advice.

Don't move until I give the signal.

Take & Have

We use 'take' and 'have' with some nouns that have the same form as verbs, such as:

  • to take a look/a walk/a swim
  • to have a look/a bite/a listen/a swim

Dummy Verb: Go

'Go' as a dummy verb, is used most commonly with -ing verbs that represent common everyday activities:

  • to go shopping
  • to go swimming
  • to go walking
  • to go dancing
  • to go running

Let's go dancing!

They have gone shopping.


With verbs that indicate 'movement and 'motion' such as (jog, ride, swim, run, stroll, a walk, etc.), we use this structure:
Go for a ...

We went for a walk in the park.

I usually go for a run every morning.

Dummy Verb: Do

'Do' as a dummy verb, is used most commonly with -ing verbs that represent chores (especially house chores), such as cooking, drying, washing, cleaning, etc.

Her mother does all the cooking in their house.

You should do the washing right now!

'Do' can also be used nouns when it is obvious what the action is, such as:

  • do a job/one's homework/exercise/business
  • do one's hair/teeth
  • do one's car
  • do the dishes

I'll do the dishes, you do the washing.

Have they done the car?


In English, there are some verbs that are used next to some other nouns and they make a complete meaning, which sometimes is related to the meaning of the verbs and sometimes is perfectly different. These kinds of verbs are called 'dummy verbs.'

a Quick Look Over Dummy Verbs

take I have to take a shower before leaving the house.
make Can I make a phone call by your phone?
have We have had a short chat with each other.
give Ross is supposed to give a lecture tomorrow.
go We went driving on the narrow road.
do Mark does sport regularly.


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