Generally, it can be difficult for students to tell the difference between these two verbs (make and do), since they both can be translated as “hacer” in Spanish. Surely there have been situations in which we have mixed them up, or we’ve had to interrupt our speech a few seconds to think carefully which is the correct option. However, when we look into them we can see it is not as difficult as it seems.
We use “do” in the following situations:
- Actions, activities and jobs, generally in which no physical object is produced: homework, housework (including many of the different chores like the ironing, the dishes, the cleaning), a job, exercise are common examples. I’m just doing my job”/He does most of the housework/Sarah is doing some exercise now
- When the action or activity is not specified: What is he doing now?/We need to do something/Is she doing anything interesting now?
- With the following expressions: do good, do the right thing, do harm/damage, do one’s best, do business, do justice, do a favour, do wonders, do research, do one’s hair
“Make” is used in the following situations:
- Generally when a physical object is produced as a result, being thus a synonym for “create” or “elaborate”. Examples: Dad has made your breakfast/She is making a train model for her son/He makes his own furniture
- When an action or reaction is produced. Examples: Roast chicken makes my mouth water/I don’t like the physical education class, they make us run all the time
- With plans and decisions: I haven’t made any arrangements yet/Has your dad made any plans for the weekend?
- There are a number of expressions with “make” that do not necessarily imply the general rules described above. Here you can find some relevant examples:
|Make the bed||Make an effort||Make a speech||Make an excuse|
|Make a donation||Make an attempt||Make promises||Make a mess|
|Make a suggestion||Make noise||Make a point||Make fun of|
|Make choices||Make exceptions||Make a difference||Make peace|
|Make money||Make a phone call||Make an impression||Make friends|
|Make a mistake||Make comments||Make changes||Make a discovery|
|Make progress||Make love||Make a confession||Make war|
|Make a prediction||Make faces||Make (something) possible||Make a fool (of one self)|
|Make a bet||Make a complaint||Make a fuss||Make a list|
Finally, we would like to share with you an expression which combines both verbs: “make do”. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, it means “to manage to live without things that you would like to have or with things of a worse quality than you would like”. For example: “I couldn’t find any glue so we’ll make do with cello tape”.
Now let’s practise little:
If you want to learn more about English grammar, check this post: