When to Use “Do” and “Make” in English

Do or Make

When speaking English, we often have to choose between using the verbs “do” and “make.” While there’s no perfect rule for when to use each one, there are some general guidelines that can help.

Use “Make” When Creating Something New

We tend to use “make” when we are creating or producing something new that didn’t exist before.

Collocations with MAKE:

  • Make food and drinks
    I’m going to make pasta for dinner tonight.
  • Make friends (= become friends with someone who we were not friends with before)
    John is very outgoing and makes friends easily.
  • Make progress (= move forward in the things that we are trying to do)
    If you study English every day, you’ll make a lot of progress in one year.
  • Make love (= a poetic way to say “have sex”)
    The romantic couple watched the sunset on the beach before returning to their hotel room to make love.
  • Make a mistake
    I made a mistake when I said that to her.
  • Make a phone call (= call someone)
    I need to make a phone call about the meeting.
  • Make a joke (= tell a joke)
    Steve made a funny joke about Ahmed’s mother.
  • Make a promise
    She made an important promise to me.
  • Make noise
    My dog makes a lot of noise in the morning.
  • Make a wish
    On her birthday, she made a wish before blowing out the candles.

Use “Do” for General Actions

We tend to use “do” when talking about general actions, especially those we perform regularly.

Collocations with DO:

  • Do housework
    I did some housework yesterday – swept, vacuumed, and cleaned.
  • Do paperwork (= work with documents)
    Office workers often have to do lots of paperwork.
  • Do the dishes (= wash the dishes)
    I’ll do the dishes after dinner.
  • Do the laundry (= wash dirty clothes, towels, or sheets)
    Mary asked her kids to help out more around the house by taking turns doing the laundry once a week.
  • Do your hair (= fix/stylе your hair)
    I usually do my hair before important meetings or events.
  • Do your makeup
    I’m waiting for my wife to finish doing her makeup.
  • Do drugs (= use illegal drugs)
    The police arrested him for doing drugs in the McDonald’s bathroom.
  • Do work
    I’ve got a lot of work to do today.
  • Do business (= conduct business)
    This company does a lot of business in Japan and Korea.
  • Do gardening (= take care of the plants)
    My mother likes to do gardening in her free time.

In summary, use “make” when creating something new and “do” when performing general actions. But the most important thing is to read and listen to English daily – you’ll naturally pick up on when to use each verb correctly!

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