Do or Make



When 'do' or 'make' are used as main verbs it can be confusing to ESL learners. The verb 'make' goes with some words and the verb 'do' with other words. 


We use the verb 'do' when someone performs an action, activity or task. 

do a crossword 
do the ironing 
do the laundry
do the washing
do the washing up 

'Do' is often used when referring to work of any kind. 

do your work 
do homework 
do housework
do your job

!Note - these activities do not usually produce a physical object. 

'Do' for General Ideas 

Use the verb 'do' when speaking about things in general. In other words, to describe an action without saying exactly what the action is. This form is often used with the words 'something, nothing, anything, everything, etc.' 

I'm not doing anything today. 
He does everything for his mother. 
She's doing nothing. 

Important Expressions with 'Do' 

There are a number of standard expressions that take the verb 'do'. The best solution is to try to learn them. 

do badly 
do business 
do the dishes 
do a favour 
do good 
do harm 
do time - (to go to prison)
do well
do your best
do your hair 
do your nails
do your worst 


We use the verb 'make' for constructing, building or creating 

make a dress 
make food 
make a cup of tea / coffee 

'Make' is often used when referring to preparing food of any kind. 

make a meal - breakfast / lunch / dinner 

!Note - these activities usually create something that you can touch.

Important Expressions with 'Make' 

There are a number of standard expressions that take the verb 'make'. The best solution is to try to learn them.

make amends 
make arrangements 
make believe - (to pretend)
make a choice
make a comment
make a decision
make a difference 
make an effort
make an enquiry 
make an excuse 
make a fool of yourself 
make a fortune
make friends 
make a fuss 
make a journey 
make love 
make a mess 
make a mistake 
make money 
make a move 
make a noise 
make a payment 
make a phone call
make a plan
make a point 
make a profit 
make a promise 
make a remark
make a sound
make a speech
make a suggestion
make time 
make a visit
make your bed - (to prepare the bed for sleeping in)



Last edited: 07/10/2018

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