Make / Do

➣En español sólo hay un verbo hacer, por lo que suele ser un enigma cuándo utilizar uno u otro. Let’s try.

We use ‘make’ when we create or construct something. For example:

  • She made a cake.
  • I’ve made us some coffee.
  • Did you really make those trousers?

We use ‘do’ for general activities. ‘Do‘ is often used with ‘something’, ‘nothing’, ‘anything’ or ‘everything’:

  • What did you do at the weekend?
  • I didn’t do anything yesterday.
  • She cannot do everything herself. She needs some help.
  • Are you doing anything interesting during the holidays?
  • What do you do? (means ‘what’s your job?)

Expressions with ‘make’ and ‘do’.

➣They don’t follow any rules, so you have to learn them by heart.


30 mph (miles per hour)Many people do more than 30 mph through this town. It’s very dangerous.
badlyShe did very badly on the exam, so she’ll have to retake it.
your bestDon’t worry about getting everything correct. Just do your best.
businessIt’s been a pleasure doing business with you.
choresI have to go home and do some chores this afternoon.
a courseJohn has decided to do a course in computing this autumn.
a crosswordShe sat on the sofa, doing a crossword and drinking tea.
damageThe storm has done a lot of damage to the house.
the dishes / the washing upI really hate doing the dishes. I’m hoping to buy a dishwasher this year.
a drawingThe little boy spent hours doing a drawing.
your dutyHe has to do his duty and look after his elderly parents.
an examI have to do three exams and write a huge essay this term.
exerciseJulie likes doing exercise, especially running.
an exerciseThe teacher asked us to do a lot of grammar exercises over the holidays
someone a favourMy friend did me a huge favour and lent me some money.
the gardeningDavid often spends Sunday afternoons doing gardening.
goodShe helps homeless people and tries to do good.
you goodYou should eat your vegetables. They’ll do you good!
your hairAllie spends ages doing her hair in the morning.
harmI spilt coffee on my suit and tried to clean it, but I did more harm than good. It looks even worse now!
homeworkHave you finished doing your homework?
houseworkLet’s do the housework quickly this morning, then we can go out for lunch.
the ironingMy mother listens to the radio while she does the ironing.
a jobI think the students did a great job with this essay. It’s excellent.
the laundry / the washingHe did the laundry, cleaned the house, and made dinner.
your nailsJenny likes to do her nails each week.
a paintingThere was an old man sitting on the bank of the river, doing a painting.
paperworkDoes everybody hate doing paperwork?
researchI’m doing some research for my thesis at the moment.
the shoppingI’ll do the shopping tomorrow morning. We need milk, bread, pasta and bananas.
time (= be in prison)He broke into a bank, was caught by the police, and now he’s doing time.
wellMy sister is doing well in her new job.
workUnfortunately, Lucy does a lot of work at the weekends.
your worstI’ve bought all new winter clothes:– boots, a coat and a very warm hat. Weather, do your worst!


amendsI’m so sorry that I upset you. How can I make amends?
an appointmentShe had toothache, so she made an appointment with the dentist for the following day.
arrangementsOkay, so we’re going to go on holiday in September. Let’s make some arrangements. I’ll find a hotel, and you can look at flights.
an attemptI know we might not catch the plane, but let’s at least make an attempt to be on time.
believeThe children’s favourite game is to make believe that they are kings and queens from long ago.
certainI think the café opens at six, but let’s make certain. I don’t want to be standing in the street waiting!
a changeI’ve made some changes to the document.
a choiceWhich job are you going to take? You need to make a choice.
a commentMy mother made a comment about my shoes.
a complaintThe food took so long to arrive that Julie made a complaint to the manager.
a confessionI’d like to make a confession. I was the one who ate the last of the chocolate.
a dateI’d love to see you soon. How about if we make a date for next week?
a decisionI’ve made my decision. I’m going to go back to university.
a differenceGoing to the gym has really made a difference to how I feel.
a discoveryWhen John was last in London he made a discovery – a beautiful little café in a quiet street.
an effortYou’re not trying hard enough! Make an effort!
an errorHe made several errors on the report, and the boss told him to rewrite it.
your escapeThe bank robbers took £10,000 from the safe and then made their escape.
an exceptionUsually the children aren’t allowed to watch TV but I made an exception today since the weather was so horrible.
an excuseWhy was Lisa late? Did she make an excuse?
a faceThe child took a bite of the broccoli and made a face.
a fireWe put up our tent, made a fire, and had a hot drink.
a fool of yourselfYou shouldn’t sing in front of everyone! You’ll make a fool of yourself.
a fortuneLucy made a fortune when she sold her company. Now she doesn’t have to work.
friendsShe loved university and made lots of friends.
fun ofThe children love to make fun of the teacher,– but only when she’s not looking.
a fussIt’s okay! I’m fine, it’s just a cough. Don’t make a fuss!
an impressionJenny certainly made an impression last night! All my friends are asking about her.
a jokeThe interview was very tense at the beginning, but then John made a joke, and after that it was much more relaxed.
a journeyBecause of the snow, try not to make any journeys which are not absolutely essential.
a listFirst, I must make a list of all the things I need to do.
a lossTheir business made a loss the first year, but did much better after that.
loveThe hero and the heroine made love in the film.
a messWhat a mess you’ve made! Can’t you tidy up a bit?
a mistakeShe made so many mistakes in her essay that the teacher couldn’t understand it.
moneyJohn made a lot of money in his twenties and was able to retire at the age of 35.
a moveLook how late it is! Let’s make a move.
a noisePlease try not to make a noise when you come home, because I’ll be asleep.
an observationCould I make an observation? I don’t think some of our customers like the new adverts.
an offerShe made an offer on a house. She’s nervous because she’ll find out today if it has been accepted, and she really wants to buy that house.
a paymentHello? I’d like to make a credit card payment, please.
a phone callI’m going to go outside and make a phone call. It’s too noisy in here.
plansDavid is making plans to move to Paris.
a pointThe professor used lots of examples to make his point.
a predictionThe journalist made a prediction about the economy, but in the end it wasn’t correct.
a profitHis business made a profit from the beginning.
progressFinally, after being stuck in a traffic jam for an hour, we’re making some progress! We’ll arrive by 8pm.
a promiseI must study hard today. I made a promise to my mum that I wouldn’t fail any more exams.
a remarkJohn was upset because the boss made a negative remark about his work.
a reservationCould you call the restaurant and make a reservation for tonight?
a sceneSusie made a scene in the café when her order was wrong. She shouted at all the staff and demanded to speak to the manager.
a soundDon’t make a sound! We need to be completely quiet.
a speechThe bride’s father often makes a speech at her wedding.
a suggestionCould I make a suggestion? How about going out for dinner?
sureI don’t think I left the gate open, but I’m just going to go and make sure.
the bedCould you please make the bed before you leave the house? Otherwise it looks so messy with the duvet and the pillows everywhere.
time (=find time to do something)Everybody’s busy, but you need to make time to study. Otherwise you won’t be able to get a better job.
troubleThat employee is trying to make trouble. He is always telling the boss bad things about his colleagues.
a visitI’ll call you this afternoon.– I need to make a visit to my granny this morning.
your mind upDo you want chocolate or strawberry ice cream? Make your mind up quickly!
your wayAfter the film, John made his way to a café, where he had two cups of coffee and some cake.

And click here for ‘make’ or ‘do’ exercise 1.

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