Do vs Make

Do vs make
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Confusing English Verbs

English has two verbs, "to do" and "to make," that are both equivalent to a single verb in some languages*, which makes it difficult for speakers of those languages to know which one to use in any given situation. Understanding the difference in meaning is key to knowing which verb you need.

To do

To do is the more general verb: it means to act a certain way, to perform an activity. The past tense is irregular: did.

For example…

What are you doing?

I am doing the dishes.

We want to do the crossword puzzle.

He doesn’t know what to do with those old clothes.

They do a lot of work.

Nouns to use with do

  • do an activity
  • do business
  • do chores
  • do damage
  • do the dishes
  • do exercise
  • do a favor
  • do some gardening
  • do a good deed
  • do harm
  • do homework
  • do a job
  • do the laundry
  • do one’s best
  • do one’s duty
  • do one’s hair / nails
  • do paperwork
  • do a puzzle
  • do research
  • do the shopping
  • do a task
  • do a trick
  • do work

 Do also has a very important role as an auxiliary verb.

To make

To make is more specific: it focuses on the creation of something, an activity that ends with a new product or outcome. The past tense is irregular: made.

What are you making?

I am making a cake.

We want to make a new game.

He should make a quilt out of those old clothes.

They make a lot of money.

Nouns to use with make

  • make an apology
  • make an assumption
  • make the bed
  • make a call
  • make a change
  • make a comment
  • make a copy
  • make a decision
  • make a drink
  • make an effort
  • make an excuse
  • make a fire
  • make food
  • make a friend
  • make a list
  • make a mess
  • make a mistake
  • make money
  • make noise
  • make an offer
  • make plans
  • make progress
  • make a promise
  • make a speech
  • make a video

* How to say "to do / to make" in …

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To make vs to do

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