When do exactly we choose to use have or take? They look sort of having similar context

I have a bath

I take a bath

And by the way, I saw that

I take a chance

Can't be transformed to

I have a chance

Can it?

*Moreover, If there's a verb used like the bath, it means the bath is no more a verb but a noun right?

Also very important is that , can they be applied randomly to *a verb or a noun?

Like :

* - I take a choose


  • I take an option ( this one makes sense but I mean in the context of delexical verb)


*EDIT: My mistake , bath is actually not "a verb transformed to a noun, but its absolutely a noun."

So my concerns would be if they can be used interchangeably? And be applied to random noun?

  • Not everybody knows the term delexical verbs, it is relatively rare.The British Council has a good introduction to the vast field of simplex verbs and verbal expressions (common filling verb + noun related to the simplex verb): learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-grammar/verbs/…
    – rogermue
    Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 6:31
  • If i'm not mistaken, my past instructors never told me about the term either, all I remember that we're though as to remember (take a bath / have a bath) as a 'single' straight vocab. :D Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 12:42

3 Answers 3


Bath and chance are not verbs.

"*Take a choose" is grammatically incorrect since choose is a verb. To make it grammatically correct you can change it to "take a choice", although the common phrase is "make a choice".

Both have and take are delexical verbs, and their combinations with "bath" are collocations which are almost synonyms in this case (there may be a regional preference). But generally delexical verbs are not interchangeable and they can't go with just any verb - their use is idiomatic. For example, "take a chance" and "have a chance" have different meanings.

You can find more information about delexical verbs here.

  • 1
    In my (British) dialect, I never say "take a bath" - always "have a bath". To me, "take a bath" sounds American. But these are idioms (rather than phrasal verbs) and so are not compositional (i.e. you cannot take them apart and substitute synonyms, or conversely assume that different words that feature in synonymous idioms are themselves synonyms).
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 21:40

To take the|a chance means to do something with a risk of failure.

I am going to drive three hours and show up at their door, to surprise them.
--What if they are not at home?
I'm going to take a chance.

The label on this antiobiotic says it's expired.
--It's all we have until the supply boat arrives next week. We'll have to take the chance.

To have a|any chance means there is some possibility of success.

I want to ask her to the dance. Do you think I have a chance?

We're playing the best team in the league next week, and two of our best players are injured. We don't have a chance.

To have the|a chance means to have the opportunity.

If you go to the bookstore tomorrow between 2PM and 3PM, you'll have the chance to meet your favorite author.

  • Thanks. Don't you think that they are a bit idiomatic? I mean I don't focus on their plain meanings rather than.. hmm.. I don't what kind of word of to describe it, structure? Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 19:35
  • @Bravo: I do not know what you're referring to by "they" and "their".
    – TimR
    Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 11:40

The kind of two-part verbs you give in your post is a second category of verbs and their number is tremendous. A standard name for these verbs is lacking and "delexical verbs" is not the best. My private term is verbal expressions:

  • to announce (simplex verb) - to make an announcement (verbal expression)

  • to judge - to pass a judgement

  • to decide - to make a decision

The verbal expression consists of the noun of the simplex verb + a general filling verb. There are thousands of such verbal expressions and there are about twenty or more filling verbs. They are fixed collocations, ie you can´t invent them on your own.

It is a vocabulary sector that isn´t covered very well. See the meagre introduction to this important vocabulary sector given by the British Council. They can´t convey how important that vocabulary sector is. If you want to make use of such verbs you have to make your own collection. Modern dictionaries focus more and more on these verbal expressions.

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