General English Level 5 V 3
UNIT 03 Be careful! TOPIC 02 He was wearing a blue cap
LANGUAGE FOCUS 02 Delexical verbs
You can describe some very common activities using delexical verbs - a verb and noun combination - instead of a verb only.
Sophie and Jenny say:
… We were sitting by the window here, having a drink together. We looked out and saw a young woman, I guess she was just taking a walk … She wouldn't give him her bag, though - they had quite a struggle.
Oh, no! That was really silly of her. You should always give up your bag.
Sophie: … After that he gave her a good shove, hit her over the head, grabbed her bag and made his escape.

Verb Verb + noun
to drink to have a drink
to walk to take a walk
to shove to give someone a shove
to escape to make an escape

We often change a verb, for example, "to drink" into another verb ("have") and a noun ("a drink"). This is sometimes called a delexical structure. In delexical structures, the verbs have very little meaning. All the meaning is in the nouns.

The most common verbs used in delexical structures are:

There is only a small difference in meaning between the delexical structure and the normal verb. When we use the verb we are focusing on the action. When we use the delexical structure we are describing the whole event.


He walked through the park. (we are talking about the action of walking.)
He took a walk through the park. (we are talking about the whole event).

Roll your mouse slowly over the sentences to see how they become delexical structures.

Now go to 03 VOCABULARY Describing people.


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