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The difference between DO and MAKE in English

13th August 2017

“Do” and “make” are two verbs which often confuse students. The verb ‘make’ goes with some words and the verb ‘do’ with other words. These are called collocations. Do you know which ones? Don’t worry if you don’t. We are back with another #Study Trip to teach you the difference between Do and Make and when to use each one.

When do we use DO? 

DO is a general word for actions:

What are you doing this evening?

Julia’s job is very boring. She does the same thing every day.

I did a lot of things yesterday.

What do you do?  = What is your job?

Answer= I work in a bank.

We also use DO to replace a verb when the meaning is clear or obvious.  This is more common in informal spoken English.

Do I need to do my hair? (do= brush or comb)

Have you done the dishes yet? (done = washed)

Remember DO can also be an auxiliary very

Expressions with DO


an exam

a course


someone a favour



Also do the shopping, the washing, the washing-up, the ironing, the cooking etc.

When do we use MAKE?

Make = produce/create. For example:

She’s making coffee.

He has made a cake.

They make umbrellas.

It was made in Spain.

Expressions with MAKE


a mistake

an appointment

a phone call

a list

a noise

the bed

 We say make a film but take a photograph.

Compare DO and MAKE

I did a lot of things yesterday: I cleaned my house, I sent some emails, and I made a cake.

What do you do in your free time?

I make clothes. I make dresses and jackets. I also make toys for children.

Work, Jobs, Tasks

Do the housework

Do your homework

Do a good job

Do your chores

Product Material/ Origin

Made of gold

Made from grapes

Made in China

Made by me

Non-Specific Activities

Do something

Do nothing

Do anything

Do everything

Produce a Reaction

Make your eyes water

Make you happy

Make you sleepy

Make you smile

Replace Verb when Obvious

Do your hair

Do the dishes

Do the exam

Do the laundry

Plans and Decisions

Make arrangements

Make a decision

Make a choice

Make a plan

Food, Drink and Meals

Make a cake

Make breakfast

Make dinner

Make a cup of coffee

Speaking and Sounds

Make a noise

Make a comment

Make a speech

Make a suggestion


 For more Study Tips, you can read our Study Tips posts.  

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