Do / Make – What’s the Difference?

Do / Make – What’s the Difference?

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Level: Beginner    Reading Time: 6 minutes    Category: Vocabulary

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“Do” and “make” are very basic verbs in English, or so it seems. 

These two little words are actually used in a few different ways and that is where it starts to get confusing.

For example, do you do homework or do you make homework? 

That’s why I made this lesson to help you understand all the different ways we can use these verbs in English.

By the end of this article, you should be able to understand the correct ways to use these verbs like a native speaker would.

How to use do.

Do is a general word used for actions. Here are some common ways that it is used in English.


Talking about work, jobs or tasks.

If you are talking about the things that you often do, such as daily tasks, you should use the verb do. Most of the time, the task or work doesn’t produce a physical product.

  • I am doing my homework.
  • He has a lot of work to do this week.
  • I need to do the housework before dinner.
  • She did a great job with the report last week.


Talking about activities in general.

When we talk about activities, we often use do. We are not being specific about the activity though. It is also common to use indefinite pronouns in these cases.

  • Are you doing anything this weekend?
  • Is there anything I can do to help?
  • Don’t just stand there – Do something!
  • Is there nothing I can do to make it up to you?

           Read More: How to use indefinite pronouns


When the verb is obvious.

Sometimes in English, we replace the verb in a sentence with do, if the verb is obvious to the listener. This is quite casual.

  • She is doing her makeup (Putting on)
  • Could I open the window? Ah, don’t worry, I’ll do it for you. (open)
  • You do the dinner, I’ll do the dishes (cook/clean)
  • I need to do the shopping. (go/buy)


Common Collocations with Do.

Here are a list of common words that are often used with do:

  • an activity
  • damage
  • a favour
  • a job
  • a task
  • business
  • drawing
  • gardening
  • laundry
  • a test
  • cleaning
  • washing
  • cooking
  • an exam
  • homework
  • work
  • a course
  • exercise
  • ironing
  • shopping

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How to use Make.

Make is a verb that is used to express creating or producing something. It can also be used in a few different ways.


Talking about materials or origins.

When you want to talk about where something comes from or the material it is made from, you can use make.

  • It was made in Japan.
  • It is made of wood.
  • Coke cans are made from aluminium.
  • It was made by Apple.


Talking about food or drinks.

When we are talking about things we eat or drink, we usually use make.

  • They made a cake together.
  • She is making some coffee.
  • He is making breakfast.
  • I am making spaghetti for dinner.


Talking about reactions.

When you want to talk about your reactions to something, you can use make.

  • This movie always makes me cry.
  • He always makes me laugh.
  • Going for a walk makes me happy.
  • The news made him smile.


Talking about plans or decisions.

If you want to discuss plans or decisions, you should use make.

  • We are making plans for the party
  • I had to make a difficult decision.
  • He made arrangements for the business trip.
  • We made the decision to get married next year.


Talking about sounds or comments.

When you want to talk about comments that someone made, or a sound that something makes, you should use make.

  • The baby is sleeping, so don’t make any noise.
  • Her friends made some nice comments about her dress.
  • He made a complaint to the manager.
  • The car engine is making a weird noise.

Collocations with make.

Here are a list of words that are often used with the verb make.

  • an apology
  • coffee/tea
  • an excuse
  • love
  • an offer
  • an assumption
  • a comment
  • friends
  • a phone call
  • sound
  • a complaint
  • a mess
  • a plan
  • a mistake
  • a speech
  • a cake
  • an effort
  • a list
  • money
  • progress
  • a change
  • a promise

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