Make or Do?
MAKE or DO ?
The verbs ‘do’ and ‘make’ are often confused. The meanings are similar, but there are differences.
As with many things in the English language there is no rule that works 100% of the time, but there are some tips that can help you.
‘Do’ is usually used for activities that you do often, again and again, like work. It is often associated with duty and responsibility and other things that you must do.
Do the dishes.
‘To do’ is usually used with activities that do not produce a physical object.
It is also commonly used for general activities that do not produce an object, for example doing something / nothing / anything / everything.
I’m not doing anything today.
I do everything for you!
I’m busy doing something.
He’s doing nothing, as usual.
(These activities are all general and do not produce a physical object.)
‘Make’ is usually used to describe a creative activity or something you choose to do. You choose to make plans, make friends, and make decisions. You have choices.
Make a sculpture.
Make a decision.
Make a joke.
Make dinner. Although we have to make dinner again and again, the use of the verb ‘make’ shows that culturally this is seen as a creative activity (even though you have to eat every day!)
As with everything in English, there are some exceptions! We are sorry, but we all know English is tricky :)
Here is a common mistake in English:
I often do mistakes when I speak English
Correct: I often make mistakes
This is a standard expression that takes the verb ‘to make’, even though the verb ‘to do’ may seem more appropriate.
‘Do’ may seem more appropriate because ‘make’ is normally used with a creative activity or one where you have a choice. You probably are not choosing to make a mistake! However, ‘to make a mistake’ is a standard collocation (verb + noun combination) that you need to learn.
So next time, don’t do a mistake; make a mistake!