Do or Make Explained

An explanation

How to Use Make and Do

Below you will find do and make explained. As you may know, the two verbs 'do' and 'make' are often confused in English. The meanings are often similar, but there are differences. In general, we do tasks and activities in English. With make something physical is produced. Do is a chore, Make is creating something. 

'Do' for Activities around the House

Use the verb 'do' to express daily activities or jobs.

Notice that these are usually activities that produce no physical object.

  • do homework - I usually do my homework after dinner.
  • do housework - Both my mother and father do the housework. 
  • do the ironing - I like to do the ironing while I watch TV.
  • do the dishes - It's my job to do the dishes after dinner every evening.
  • do a job - Tom does a few jobs around the house. 

'Do' for General Ideas

Use the verb 'do' when speaking about things in general. In other words, when we do not exactly name an activity. This form is often used with the words 'something, nothing, anything, everything, etc.'

  • Do something / anything - I'm not doing anything today.
  • Do everything for someone - He does everything for his mother.
  • Do nothing - She's doing nothing at the moment.

Important Expressions with 'Do'

There are a number of standard expressions that take the verb 'do'. These are standard collocations (verb + noun combinations) that are used in English.

  • do one's best - They did their best last weekend.
  • do good - A trip in the country will do you good. 
  • do harm - Smoking does harm to your health. 
  • do a favor  - Can you do me a favor?
  • do business - We do business in countries around the world. 

'Make' for Constructing, Building, Creating

Use 'make' to express an activity that creates something that you can touch.

  • make food - Let's make hamburgers this evening.
  • make a cup of / some  tea / coffee - I made a cup of tea. Would you like some?
  • make a mess - Look at the mess you made!

'Make' with Money

It's common to use 'make' with expressions related to money. 

  • make money - Jennifer makes a lot of money at her job.
  • make a profit - She made a huge profit off the last deal.
  • make a deal - We made a two year deal.
  • make a fortune - I think he'll make a fortune. He's really smart.

Important Expressions with 'Make'

There are a number of standard expressions that take the verb 'make'. In a number of cases the verb 'do' seems more appropriate. These are standard collocations (verb + noun combinations) that are used in English.

  • make plans - I've made plans for the weekend.
  • make an exception - I'll make an exception to the rule for you.
  • make arrangements - We've made arrangements for next week.
  • make a telephone call Let me make a telephone call.
  • make a decision - I need you to make a decision by Monday.
  • make a mistake - Susan made a mistake on the report. 
  • make noise - The children are making too much noise. 
  • make an excuse - Tell me the truth. Don't make an excuse. 
  • make an effort - I'd like you to make an effort next time. 

    Next, take the quiz testing 'do' or 'make'.