Differences between Make and Do


What happens when the translation of two words in English is the same, but they are used differently? Such as “Make” and “Do”.

First of all, don’t panic. Second: read this post to the end. I will explain how to use them properly, with their similarities and differences. Finally, use this knowledge to your advantage.

Rules to differentiate “Make” and “Do”

The translation of “Make” and “Do” is the verb “to do”; but both words are used differently. For example, if you are with a friend and use the expression “I make my homework” you will be making a mistake, because the correct way to express this idea is “I do my homework”.

The reason goes beyond logic and even semantics…

This is the first and main difference between “Make” and “Do”:

  • “Do” is a verb in infinitive, and is also used as an auxiliary of the present simple (excluding third persons from the singular He, She, It).

But in the case of affirmative sentences, when you use “Do,” you are focusing on the action, the process, and not the outcome.

EXAMPLE: I do exercises (process)

  • The opposite happens with “Make”, which is a verb in the present that, when used, emphasizes the result of the action, rather than the activity performed.

EXAMPLE: I make a list (Result)

Here goes the second one:

  • “Do” is also used, when we mention an activity in a generic way, without further specification.

EXAMPLE: I do housework (General)>

  • While if you’re going to be a little more detailed, “Make” will work better for you.

EXAMPLE: I make a cake(Specific)>

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  • I must tell you that “Do” is mostly used in the area of repetitive jobs.

EXAMPLE: I do my work (Repetitive)>.

  • “Make”, is better when we refer to the creation of something, to manufacturing from scratch.

EXAMPLE: I make art (Creation)>

The fourth difference is a little more complex

There are some phrases, rules or also called “collocations” when we use “Make” and “Do”, which do not necessarily follow the above grammar, and sometimes have no explanation.

It is simply the best way (or at least the everyday way) to express yourself. As they would say over there: they sound better.

  • Some of the phrases with “Do” that break the schemes with collocations are:


Do business

Do your hair

Do in favor (Do a favor)

Do the dishes

Do the laundry

Do well

Do bad

Do nothing (and any indefinite pronoun)

Do your best

Do a research

With “Make” these are some collocations you can learn:

Make your eyes water

Make a mistake

Make a point (say something important, have a point)

Make sure (ensure)

Make a pass at someone

Make up (as a verb, refers to constitute or do something) I make the clarification, because if we use this word as a noun, means makeup.

Make up your mind (decide)

Make time (to do or find time)

Make a decision

Make fun (Laugh)


IMPORTANT NOTE: although “Do” seems more useful, actually, “Make” has more collocations. There, you already know that when it comes to the verb make, surely the number of times you use “make” will be greater.

How can you learn this?

With practice and using memory. There is no other way, because they are expressions that make English natural and fluent, without being 100% according to the rules of grammar (which are really important, but sometimes vary in oral communication).

I share with you some exercises so that you can practice it yourself:

Complete mentally with “Do” or “Make” as you think corresponds.

You need to ______ a decision as soon as possible

I ______ dinner

He _______ his job perfectly

You can _______ progress, if you practice your English everyday

You can ______ a fire there, but be careful

I like to ______ new friends

______ your report. We need it

He ______ progress

I going to _______ some coffee

I ______ breakfast for you

Learning is easy and fun when we understand why things happen (even if sometimes they don’t). That’s why we created this blog. To share the details, the rules, and the process behind learning English. And that way, you can learn and practice at your own pace.

Today you learned the differences between “Make” and “Do”, but much more information awaits you. If you need help or a little guidance, contact us; don’t be shy, we are here to help you.

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