Usage Patterns and Meanings of High-Frequency English Verbs: A Multi-Word Expression Approach to Japanese High School EFL Textbook Analysis

Hiroko Sakaba, Takeshi Okada


This article aims to classify the overall uses of high-frequency English verbs in a novel methodology from both a pattern and meaning perspective, which has not be done in previous studies, with special reference to TAKE and MAKE. In the pattern-based analysis, all occurrences of these two verbs were collected from Japanese EFL textbook corpus, and the usage patterns of the extracted two target verbs were categorized into three major multi-word expression types: phrasal verbs, grammatical collocations, and lexical collocations. To further investigate the patterns of uses, some multi-word units consisting of three to seven words were identified as either semi-fixed expressions or fixed expressions. After the pattern-based classification, all the multi-word expressions identified were analyzed from a semantic perspective. This analysis revealed the new finding that all uses of TAKE (352) and MAKE (374) obtained from the corpus could be successfully classified into the three major multi-word expression categories. With respect to the pattern, the proportion of major multi-word expression categories showed similar results; lexical collocations were the most frequent, and phrasal verbs were the least frequent in both target verbs’ usage. In terms of meanings, the uses of TAKE were classified in a larger number of semantic categories (42) than MAKE (25). The obtained results have an implication that the novel methodology employed in this study is a valid way to the further investigation of the usage of high-frequency English verbs.


High-Frequency Verb, Multi-Word Expression, Collocation, Phrasal Verb, TAKE, MAKE, EFL Textbook

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