Do vs Make

Do vs Make

I had a listener request to talk about Do vs Make.  There is a lot of crossover between the two and it can be quite confusing to know when to use each one. They are connected to many different collocations and, although there aren’t clear rules that you can always remember, there are ways we can group them into categories and make it a bit easier.

I’m going to go over each category today and give some examples of each one. Then at the end, I’ll give you a little quiz to practice. I’ll tell you the answers after the outro music at the very end!

When to use "Do"

Work

We often use “Do” for things related to work, although there are many exceptions

Do the dishes

Do exercise

Do the housework

Do homework

Do paperwork

Do my taxes

Non-Specific Things

We use “Do” to talk about non-specific things (using the words ending in ~thing)

Do something!

I’m not going to do anything

Let’s do everything in the park

Obvious Things

When the verb is obvious, we can sometimes replace the specific verb with a simple “Do”

I need to do my makeup (apply makeup)

I want to do the dishes (wash dishes)

I just did an exam (sat an exam)

Have you done the laundry? (washed the laundry)

When to use "Make"

Food and Drink

“Make” is often used to talk about the creation of something and is related to the result. We often use it for things connected to food. I’ll add the specific verbs in brackets.

Make tea (brew tea)

Make dinner (prepare dinner)

Make a smoothie (blend a smoothie)

Make a cake (bake a cake)

Plans and Decisions

We also use “make” for decisions and plans. In a way, we are ‘creating’ a plan from nothing, so it kind of makes sense.

Let’s make a plan

He made an appointment for 2pm

Quick! Make a decision

Causing a Reaction

When an action leads to someone feeling a certain way, you can use “make”.

Your reviews make me happy (cause me to be happy)

His driving made me angry

The beauty made me happy

You make me smile 🙂

Sounds

Again linked to the creation of something, “make” is used for sounds.

Don’t make a sound

Stop making such a racket

He made a speech on stage

Origins and Materials

Finally, “Make” can talk about where something came from (origin), who created it, or what it is made from (material). Pay attention to the prepositions here too.

This glass is made in China

It is made of glass

It was made by Emily

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