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English as 2nd Language

Do or Make Explained
An explanation
By Kenneth Beare, About.com

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make or do collocations intermediate level english

The two verbs 'do' and 'make' are often confused. The meanings are similar, but there are differences. '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 do do do do homework housework the ironing the dishes 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 do do do do one's best good harm a favour 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 make make make make make make make make make plans an exception arrangements a telephone call a decision a mistake noise money an excuse an effort

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When to use Make or Do


Do and Make are two of the most common verbs in English. They are also two of the most commonly confused verbs in English! There are two main reasons for this:

Many languages have only one of these verbs. For example, in Italian 'fare' translates for both 'do' and 'make'. Many of the expressions are fixed expressions such as: make the bed, do homework.

This guide should help you learn the most common uses of both Do and Make in English. Fixed Expressions with 'Do' Here are the some of the most common fixed expressions with 'do':

do do do do do do do do do

homework the dishes housework good harm your best a favor 50 mph business

do do do do do do

your duty your hair a deed penance / time right / wrong enough

Fixed Expressions with 'Make' Here are the some of the most common fixed expressions with 'make':

make make make make make make make make make make make make make make

an offer an exception a mistake peace / war love money / a profit a phone call an effort / attempt (a) noise a suggestion a decision an excuse progress arrangements

General Rules for 'Do' Use 'do' when speaking about vague, or indefinite activities. These include speaking in general using '-thing' words such as something, anything, nothing, etc. Examples Are you going to do anything about it? Let's do something this afternoon. I didn't do anything wrong! Use 'do' for activities. This includes any chores or daily tasks. Examples Hurry up and do the dishes Did you do your chores? I didn't have time to do my homework Use 'do' with various jobs and activities ending in '-ing' such as do some gardening, do some thinking, do some painting, etc. This use tends to be informal in nature and can often be stated

in a different manner. For example, 'I did some studying this afternoon' can be stated 'I studied this afternoon'. Examples I did some thinking about your problem. He did some reading this morning. She's going to do some resting on vacation. General Rules for 'Make' Generally, use 'make' when actually constructing or creating something (in other words, NOT for activities). Examples I made a cup of tea for breakfast. He made his daughter a rocking horse. Did you make that wonderful bread?

Do and Make are two verbs which frequently confuse students.

Expressions with DO
The following words are normally used with Do:

anything a job badly nothing a burp a painting business right (the right thing) a course a service damage the shopping a dance something the dishes the washing

a drawing well exercises work a fart wrong (the wrong thing) A favour your best the gardening your hair harm your homework the housework your nails

Expressions with MAKE


The following words are normally used with MAKE:

amends faces peace an impression an appointment a fool of yourself a phone call arrangement a fortune a plan an attempt friends a point a bet fun of someone a prediction a cake a fuss a profit certain

inquiries progress a choice a joke a reservation a complaint a line a sandwich a confession a list a scene a date a loss a speech a decision love a statement a difference a mess a suggestion a discovery a mistake sure an effort money trouble an error a noise war an escape an observation your bed an exception an offer your mind up an excuse a pass at someone your way