Do and make are 2 verbs that are easily confused by English students. Let’s learn together about the difference between them and when we should use them!
We use “do” when somebody performs an action, an activity or a task:
- do the washing;
- do a crossword;
- do the ironing;
- do the washing up;
- do the laundry;
- do the dishes;
- do the shopping;
Exception: to make the bed;
e.g.: I always do the shopping at the weekend.
We also use “do” to speak about things in general:
- do something;
- do nothing;
- do anything;
- do everything;
- do good;
- do the right thing;
- do well/ do badly;
- do your best;
e.g. : I would do anything for my best friend.
She didn’t do anything yesterday.
“Do” is often used when referring to work of any kind and study:
- do the housework;
- do the homework;
- do your work;
- do a good/great terrible job;
- do a report ( also to write a report);
- do a course (also to take a course);
Exception: to take a test;
e.g.: Her mother does all the housework in her house.
Use “do” in expressions for taking care of your body:
- do your hair;
- do your nails;
- do exercise;
Exception: take a bath or take a shower;
We use the verb “make” for constructing, building, creating or preparing food of any kind:
- make food;
- make breakfast/ lunch/ dinner;
- make a sandwich/ salad/ cake;
- make a coffee/ tea;
- make a dress;
- make a reservation at the restaurant;
e.g: He had to make his own dinner last night because his wife was out of town.
“Make” is also used to indicate the materials that are used to create a product or its origin:
- made of silver/ gold/ iron;
- made in China/ Germany;
- made from grapes/ plums;
e.g. This bracelet is made of silver.
The Romanian brandy is generally made from plums.
The dress that I am wearing is made in China.
Use “make” in expressions regarding money:
- make a fortune;
- make a profit;
- make 100 $;
- make a fortune;
e.g.: He made a fortune selling people second hand cars.
We also use “make” for producing an action or a reaction:
- make somebody cry;
- make somebody happy;
- make somebody do something;
e.g.: He always does his best to make me happy.
I was made to do a lot of things I didn’t want.
“Make” is also used in expressions with relationships:
- make friends;
- make up with somebody;
- make love;
- make fun of somebody;
- make a pass at;
e.g.: He is a very mean person. He always makes fun of everybody.
“Make” is used to talk about plans, progress and decisions:
- make arrangements;
- make plans;
- make a choice;
- make a decision;
- make a mistake
- make an attempt/ effort;
- make up your mind;
- make a discovery;
- make sure;
- make a difference;
- make an exception;
e.g. We have made all the arrangements for our trip.
I think you have waited enough. It’s time to make a choice.
Make is used in expressions with communication:
- make a phone call;
- make a confession;
- make a bet;
- make a complaint;
- make a point;
- make a suggestion;
- make an promise;
- make a speech;
- make a prediction;
- make an excuse;
- make a comment;
- make an observation;
Exceptions: have a conversation;
e.g.: I want you to excuse me but I have to make a phone call.