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Lesson 7.1

Do vs. Make

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“Do” and “make” are two verbs which are frequently confused in English as differences in their meaning are subtle. In general, “do” refers more to the action, while with “make” we are referring more to the result of the action.


“Do” is used for actions, activities and work. In general, these actions and activities do not produce a physical object. It’s broader meaning is “to perform”.


 do homework
 do a job
 do the dishes
 do housework
 do exercise

We use “do” when we are speaking in general, when we don’t say exactly what the action or activity is we are preforming. In this sense, “do” is often used with indefinite pronouns such as “something”, “anything”, “nothing”, etc.


 What are you doing today? I’m not doing anything.
 He’s always doing nice things for his girlfriend.
 Are you doing anything important right now?


 do good
 do right
 do wrong
 do damage
 do one’s best
 do a favor
 do justice
 do research
 do harm
 do business
 do one’s hair
 do wonders


“Make” can be defined as “to produce” or “to create”. It is used for activities which result in something physical.


 make breakfast / lunch / dinner
 make a dress
 make furniture


Note: There are many expressions which use the verb “make”. In many of these expressions, “make” cannot be translated as “to produce” or “to create” and in many cases, “do” would appear more appropriate. As they are fixed expressions though, they must simply be memorized.


 make a decision
 make a choice
 make a plan
 make arrangements
 make an appointment
 make a mistake
 make money
 make an excuse
 make an effort
 make an attempt
 make fun of
 make progress
 make an offer
 make [a] noise
 make peace
 make war
 make a phone call
 make an exception
 make a confession
 make a discovery
 make a change
 make amends
 make a comment
 make a statement
 make a speech
 make a difference
 make friends
 make love
 make a fire
 make an impression
 make a mess
 make a point
 make a promise
 make a suggestion
 make time
 make the bed
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