Let's Learn the Difference Between MAKE and DO (with Practice Exercises)
‘Make’ and ‘do’ are two of the most common verbs in English and two of the most commonly confused. They have similar meanings but they function differently in sentences. This guide will help you learn the difference between the two verbs and how to use them correctly.
How to Use MAKE
We use ‘make’ when we’re talking about creating or producing something. So, we can say,
“I made a cake for you” (NOT... I did a cake for you)
“Chile makes excellent wine.”
“He made me breakfast this morning.”
Generally, we use ‘make’ when the focus is on the result.
"What are you making for dinner?" "I’m making pasta."
Here are some other examples,
“He makes a big mess when he cooks.”
“I made a lot of friends when I lived in Italy.”
“She needs to make a decision by the end of the day.”
Do you see how ‘make’ focuses on the result of the action, not the action itself? Notice that in all those examples, something was produced: a mess, friends or a decision.
How to Use DO
We use do when we’re talking about performing or executing something. The focus is on the action.
So we can say,
"What are you doing for dinner?" "We’re going to that new restaurant."
Here are some other examples,
“I need to do some shopping today.”
“She does yoga almost every day.”
“Some days, I love doing nothing.”
In all the examples above, the main focus is on the activity: going to a restaurant, shopping, doing nothing (relaxing), or doing yoga.
Let’s look at another example. Suppose it’s your friend’s birthday, what do you think is the difference between saying:
“What are you making for your friend’s birthday?”
“What are you doing for your friend’s birthday?”
Remember, these are general guidelines to help make things easier for you. There are times when the distinction is not clear, so the best way to learn how to use ‘do’ and ‘make’ correctly is to practice them regularly. That’s why I created this worksheet to help you use and apply what you’re learning.
DO – Common Combinations
Do + work or business
“We’ve done business with them in the past.”
Do + a thing, something, nothing, anything, etc.
“Did you do anything interesting this weekend?”
Do + activities (shopping, hair, sports, exercise, etc.)
“I need to do my hair before we got out.”
Do + your best
“Don’t worry, just try to do your best at the interview."
Do + a favor
“He did me a big favor so I’m very thankful to him.”
MAKE – Common Combinations
Make + a mistake
“We’ve made a mistake in our calculation.”
Make + a difference
“Changing schools made a big difference to my life."
Make + a change
“They need to make a few changes to the design.”
Make + noise
“The kids are making too much noise.”
Make + money
“He doesn’t make a lot of money at his new job.”
Make + a suggestion
“I made a suggestion but she just ignored me.”
Make + progress
“You’ll make progress if you practice every day.”
Make + an offer
“We’ve made an offer, and we’re waiting for an answer.”
Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below. And if you found this helpful, please spread the knowledge and share it with your friends :)
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