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Grammar Books

English Grammar

Do vs Make

Do | Make

When 'do' or 'make' are used as main verbs it can be confusing to ESL learners. The verb 'make' goes with some words and the verb 'do' with other words.

Do

We use the verb 'do' when someone performs an action, activity or task.

do a crossword
do the ironing
do the laundry
do the washing
do the washing up

'Do' is often used when referring to work of any kind.

do your work
do homework
do housework
do your job

!Note - these activities do not usually produce a physical object.

'Do' for General Ideas

Use the verb 'do' when speaking about things in general. In other words, to describe an action without saying exactly what the action is. This form is often used with the words 'something, nothing, anything, everything, etc.'

I'm not doing anything today.
He does everything for his mother.
She's doing nothing.

Important Expressions with 'Do'

There are a number of standard expressions that take the verb 'do'. The best solution is to try to learn them.

do badly
do business
do the dishes
do a favour
do good
do harm
do time - (to go to prison)
do well
do your best
do your hair
do your nails
do your worst

Make

We use the verb 'make' for constructing, building or creating

make a dress
make food
make a cup of tea / coffee

'Make' is often used when referring to preparing food of any kind.

make a meal - breakfast / lunch / dinner

!Note - these activities usually create something that you can touch.

Important Expressions with 'Make'

There are a number of standard expressions that take the verb 'make'. The best solution is to try to learn them.

make amends
make arrangements
make believe - (to pretend)
make a choice
make a comment
make a decision
make a difference
make an effort
make an enquiry
make an excuse
make a fool of yourself
make a fortune
make friends
make a fuss
make a journey
make love
make a mess
make a mistake
make money
make a move
make a noise
make a payment
make a phone call
make a plan
make a point
make a profit
make a promise
make a remark
make a sound
make a speech
make a suggestion
make time
make a visit
make your bed - (to prepare the bed for sleeping in)

Now Test It - Do or Make

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