DO or MAKE – Which one to use?

DO or MAKE – The difference between them.

The verb DO can be either an auxiliary (helping) verb or a main verb.

1. As an auxiliary verb, DO has no particular meaning. It is used mainly for forming questions.

  • Do you like coffee?
  • Do you go on holiday every year?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

2. As a main verb: DO is used for actions in general, without necessarily specifying what the action is:

  • I want to do something.
  • What shall we do tomorrow?

 
3. DO is used for an activity which doesn’t actually produce anything tangible:

  • Are you doing well with your studies?
  • I get tired of doing the same thing every day.

 
4. DO is used for work, jobs and professions:

  • What do you do for a living? (What is your job?)
  • Have you done your homework yet?

 

NOTE: As with GET, in spoken English we sometimes use DO to replace another verb,
but only when the meaning is clear. This is very informal and not used in written English.

  • Do the dishes (wash/dry the dishes)
  • Do your hair (brush, wash, cut, arrange your hair)

 

The verb MAKE is always a main verb, never an auxiliary.

1. MAKE usually means to produce or construct something physical:

  • I made a pizza for dinner.
  • This car was made in Italy.

 
2. MAKE is used to say what material an object is fabricated from:

  • This table is made from wood.
  • My new dress is made of cotton and polyester.

 
3. We also use MAKE to say where something has been manufactured:

  • For example: Made in China.

 
4. Be careful however, because MAKE is quite often used in expressions where we are creating something that     is not a tangible object.

  • To make a fuss.
  • To make an idiot of yourself.

 

NOTE: We can use both verbs in the same sentence: MAKE to mean the creation of something, and DO to refer to the general action.

  • I must make something for dinner; but I’ll do it later.



 

Some expressions with DO

do good do harm do a favour
do well do badly do business
do the shopping do your job do a course
do your homework do the dishes do a test

 

Some expressions with MAKE

make an excuse make a noise make a profit
make a suggestion make peace make war
make an offer make a phone call make changes
make a complaint make an effort make a decision
make money make the bed make someone happy

 
Related Content:
BBC English – Do or Make
Cambridge Dictionaries – The verb DO
Cambridge Dictionaries – The verb MAKE
Woodward English – Do or Make
 

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