MAKE or DO? Learn English


Morning class, how are you doing?

I'm fi-...

yeah I'm good

Ugh! Last night I was making my homework for three hours!

I think it's "DO" "DO my homework"

Yes! "Do"!

"Do my homework"? I need to remember this, I'm making a test tomorrow!

It's "do", isn't it? It's "DO a test"

Yeah sorry

I knew that!

Look I did a mistake, I'm soooo sorry!

Shut up! "MAKE a mistake"? No!

-Why? -I don't know English is stupid

No! No! I hate you, I hate YOU

You, I don't know your name but I hate you too!

I hate English!

I'm sorry that was rude! I'm sorry!

I'm gonna do a coffee and calm down

Oh for f-

Okay "Make" and "Do" In many Latin languages,

there's just one word for make and do, but in English we have two

(Make and do)

but don't worry it's actually very easy to learn the difference

Basically basically "DO": This is for general actions

"MAKE" however, that's when you physically create build produce something

So if you build create produce something with your hands or machine maybe it's make

and if it's a regular daily like a repeated action a daily activity then it's "DO"

Of course there are exceptions of course there are fixed phrases

We're going to look at all of them

Okay let's get into more detail

"DO": Like I said it's for general daily activities daily repeated actions

Okay a general daily activity daily action that you repeat all the time


That's a general action. We repeat it

Maybe not daily but we do say "I'm gonna do some exercise today"

What should I do?

Should I...

Maybe I should do yoga Do you do yoga? Is it good? I've never done it

"Do some stretching" commonly we add "some" in the middle

Not all the time, but it does sound good to add "some"

"I'm gonna do some stretching"

"Do meditation" - again it might sound better to say "I'm going to do SOME meditation"


We can also talk about the degree of success or failure for some action. For example:

You did something and you were amazing!

You can say something like this:

"I did really well on the test"

or in the negative "Umm you didn't do well in the test, you failed!"

So have you done a test, an exam recently?

How did you do? Let me know in the comments!

and if the verb is really obvious you can change it for DO, example:

It probably isn't obvious, but she is doing the thing...

these things are called your "eyelashes"

and she has a brush thing and she's doing that

Also she's not a vampire, this is "makeup"

A common mistake with this: I hear students say "I'm going to make me up"

We don't say that

"Put on makeup"

and of course you can say...

"I'm going to paint my nails" "I'm going to style/brush my hair"

but it doesn't sound necessary because these are very common activities

You would just say "Do"

"I'm going to DO my makeup",

"I'm going to DO my nails",

"I'm going to DO my hair"

Another example would be...

-"Hey let's clean the house!" -"Okay!"

"I'll do the kitchen, you do the toilet!"

We already established the verb "clean", so we don't need to repeat it here and here

"Let's clean the house I'll clean the kitchen you clean the toilet"

we don't want to repeat words, "I'll DO the kitchen you DO the toilet"

"DO" often collocates with types of work

Housework Shopping. "Do the shopping"

"Do the laundry"

"Do the housework" "Do the cleaning" "Do the dishes"

Also schoolwork: A very common mistake I hear is when students say this

"Oh my god I'm so nervous I'm going to MAKE the IELTS test next week!"


You're not creating the IELTS test, right?

So you don't use MAKE, use DO

You're going to DO the IELTS, or any test or exam

So there's that do a test or an exam, "Do your homework"

"Do research", you DO a course at uni, For example:

Tell me in the comments if you're going to university, which course are you going to do?

With "course" you can also say TAKE, you "take a course" that's okay too

and if you are the teacher of a course, you have to create the course, create a syllabus

YOU! You would say MAKE!

"I have to make a course at uni! Oh my god"

also for work or business stuff

"Do a job"

"Do a task"

"Do an activity"

"Do an interview"

actually okay if you are the person who wants the job

it's more common to say "I'm going to HAVE an interview"

"I had an interview today I think he thought I was rubbish"

"Don't worry! I'm sure you did very well! No one thinks you're rubbish!"

The person who GIVES the interview, gives the interview. The verb is "Give"

But they also say DO

"I did three interviews today, all of them were rubbish!"

Oh also a really common mistake is this one:

"Hi! Sorry can you MAKE me a favour?"

No this is very common! It's not MAKE a favour, it's DO a favour

"Sorry can you do me a favour?"

The exception to housework is

In the morning you want to tidy your bed after you slept in it

We don't say "DO the bed" sometimes we do

But more often we say "MAKE the bed" "Every day you should MAKE your bed"

This is coming from someone who never makes their bed

Then we have MAKE, remember I said if you create, produce, or build something

then you MAKE it

In the morning you wake up, you make breakfast. What do you make?

You make a pancake because you're cool

and you physically create it with your hands

Same with a coffee, you MAKE a coffee

or like now you MAKE a YouTube video.

Also MAKE often collocates with speaking things communication decisions that kind of thing

For example: You want to go somewhere with your friends and you need a plan

This guy wants a suggestion, so he'll say:

I have no ideas make a suggestion!

Okay let's get pancakes, or beer. I don't mind

Make a decision

Okay let's make a plan

Friday at 8:00 p.m. pancakes and ice cream because we're adults!

Make me a promise, make an effort, if you're late don't make an excuse

I will make a complaint to your mother for raising such a rubbish child

Alright don't make a speech! We all make mistakes!

That is a lot of information

but I hope that you made the decision or made the choice

to take notes in this lesson you can also say make notes

The exception with communication is "Question"

This is a common mistake I hear, it's not "MAKE a question" Nooo!

It's "Ask a question" So take that put it in your memory and keep it there!

MAKE also collocates very nicely with money and business things. For example:

"To earn money" we replace the verb EARN with MAKE. Example:

Let me know in the comments...

What do you do (The action) to make money? (Earn)

"Let's make a bet" (To Gamble)

You also make a deal, make an agreement, make a contract

You make a payment. For example: "I make monthly payments for my phone"

In a business if you make lots of money you make a profit

or if you lose lots of money you make a loss

you might make the decision to make an investment

I was thinking about making an investment in Bitcoin like four years ago

and I'm quite sad now

Wait am i sad? Is Bitcoin still a thing?

Oh! and Brazilians! I know that you love your barbecue

and let's be honest, Brazilian barbecue, is there anything better? Probably not!

But a common mistake with this that I hear from students is this:

"Let's make a barbecue!"

You don't MAKE a barbecue

That sounds like you build the barbecue, build the the cooker thing, the grill

No we say you HAVE a barbecue

Sometimes we say...

"Oh this weekend we're gonna do a barbecue"

But I think that's only a British thing I don't think Americans say "DO a barbecue"

American English "I'm doing a barbecue" - Yeah, no!

Same thing with "party", you don't MAKE a party you HAVE a party

Lastly we can talk about changing emotions or changing states. For example:

Picture the scene you're in a restaurant with your partner, it's so romantic

Your partner is being very romantic "You make me so happy!"

There's a mariachi guy, he is serenading you!


There's roses!

but you don't like romance

"Sorry can we make this less romantic?"

"Can we make this less romantic?" "You make me happy"

We're talking about changing emotional states or changing the situation

Also as a fixed phrase "to make sure... something"

For example: remember when you were really young child and you wanted to be sure

You wanted to know definitely there were no monsters under your bed

So you asked your mum: "Mum can you please make sure that there are no monsters under my bed?"

I mean you know some kids do that, I definitely didn't do that when I was young

Okay daily collocations that you use every single day

When I wake up I make a coffee

then I make breakfast

then I make the bed

then I'll do my teeth and make myself look good

When I put on my jacket I need to... it up

"To DO UP my jacket"

Oh with my shoes also...

DO UP my shoes

then at the office I'll do some work

then I'll come home I'll make dinner

Quick side note: With meals, breakfast, lunch, dinner

You can say both

"What are you doing tonight?"

"I'm gonna quickly do some dinner then I'm gonna see my friends"

then I'll do some cleaning

make food for tomorrow, and finally do the dishes

So I hope all of that's clear

If not, here are some sentences which show you exactly how the sentence changes with DO or with MAKE

It's her sixteenth birthday, and he's saying "I made something for your birthday"

He said MAKE because there's a cake

He physically built it with his hands in this case a cake

"I don't want a cake, I want a car"

But if you say "I DID something for your birthday"

For example: He bought her a new car

So he didn't create the car, he bought it that's an action. "Did"

And finally if you want to start a new business with your friend

What will you tell your friend?

"I want to make a business with you" or "I want to do some business with you"?

Which one to create a new - You already know make right? Yeah!

MAKE means create right?

So if that's what you want to do start a new business create this new business

You want to make a business

but if you want to talk about a deal, a project, a contract

then you want to do some business with that person

"I think we should do business"

Here's a quick tip:

In general if you're not sure which verb to use or maybe you don't remember

the safe option just use "Do"

you'll probably be right and sometimes when we say "MAKE something"

You can also say "DO the thing" it doesn't work the other way though

So if you're not sure you don't remember, just use do

So try your own examples in the comments

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