Working with Verb Collocations — Make and do

Do we say make a dream, do a dream or develop a dream (做夢, 作夢 or 發 夢)? What is the difference between make and do? If you put this query to a teacher, the chances are that s/he will reply something like "It's a question of collocation". While this may not seem very helpful, it is nevertheless true. Collocation (in linguistics) refers to expressions in which individual words habitually go together. In other words, the verb make goes with some words and the verb do with other words.
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We made an agreement (NOT did an agreement) I did my homework (NOT made my homework)

So what can you do to help you learn which of the two verbs is used with which other words? One of the best solutions is to try to memorize the common fixed expressions that use the words. You could make two lists in your vocabulary book (if you've got one!) and then refer to them when you are not sure. Basically, the more you read and listen, and indeed, the more contact you have with English, the more you should remember. Apart from this, there are some rules of usage for make and do that can help you: Do is used to describe an action without saying exactly what the action is:
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I'm going to do something that you won't believe! We did some things around the house on the weekend.

Do is used to talk about work and jobs:
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I didn't do any work today. My mother usually does the housework during the week, but my father does most of the chores on the weekend. Have you done your homework?

© Copyright 2005 ILC, CUHK


Prepared by Bruce K C Ma

cooking. To do a job To do what you can To do time Use MAKE: To make an apology To make a cake To make a difference To make a dress To make a fuss To make a goal. a score To make a grade or make the grade To make a list To make a mistake To make plans To make a profit To make a report © Copyright 2005 ILC. • • • Peter made a tree house for his children. creating etc. CUHK 2 Prepared by Bruce K C Ma . etc. constructing.Make is used to speak about building. producing. There is usually an end-product that comes with it. a touchdown. a homerun. washing. a basket. Make Vs Do – Common Fixed Expressions Use DO: To do your homework To do the dishes To do the laundry To do your best To do the things your have always wanted to do To do your nails and hair To do everything over again To do that To do your chores or housework To do the ironing. Who made this lovely birthday cake? We make our own yoghurt.

He was __________ good deeds throughout his life.” At times of economic downturn. CUHK 3 Prepared by Bruce K C Ma . lunch. Smoking will __________ great harm to your lungs. dessert.To make an effort To make believe (pretend) To make breakfast. He hasn’t taken action yet. he __________ himself a cup of tea. everyone has to work hard to __________ ends meet. We need to __________ up for the loss of time. You don’t have to say anything at the ceremony. “Where is Peter? He was here a while ago. We believe he will __________ a very good teacher. I hate to __________ the washing-up after dinner. © Copyright 2005 ILC.” “I saw him __________ for the bus terminus. He excels in every subject in the teacher education programme. We’d better start work now. I wonder if he will __________ good his promise. To make do (do something with what you have) To make it (be able to attend) To make it (succeed) To make it worthwhile or worth your time To make the best of a bad situation To make time (find time to do something) To make up (do something you have missed. to not be angry at someone anymore) To make your bed Task He felt very tired. The secretary will __________ all the talking for you. etc. dinner.

Web Resources For more information on do and © Copyright 2005 ILC.html http://www.htm http://www. as well as lists of common fixed expressions and Quizzes http://www.eslpartyland.better-english.html Common fixed expressions http://www.angelfire. see the web sites below: Grammar Game – Make and do http://www. CUHK 4 Prepared by Bruce K C Ma .uk/words/activities/

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