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Do or Make Explained

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How to Use Make and Do

The two verbs 'do' and 'make' are often confused. The meanings are similar, but there are differences. One of the reasons these two verbs are confused is that many languages use only one verb to mean both 'do' and 'make'. For example, in German the verb machen, and in Italian the verb fare. Learn the most important expressions for both 'make' and 'do'.

'Do' for Activities

Use the verb 'do' to express daily activities or jobs. Notice that these are usually activities that produce no physical object.

do homework
do housework
do the ironing
do the dishes
do a job

'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.'

I'm not doing anything today.
He does everything for his mother.
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
do good
do harm
do a favour
do business

'Make' for Constructing, Building, Creating

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

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

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
make an exception
make arrangements
make a telephone call
make a decision
make a mistake
make noise
make money
make an excuse
make an effort

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

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