Do or make: Which one is it?

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The English Verbs ‘to Make’ and ‘to Do’

The pair of English verbs to do and to make can confuse language learners. Why? Because of the simple fact that in translating to other languages they may often be switched around. Therefore, we must be careful and learn when to use one and when to use the other. These are, in fact, verbs with the same meaning, but that are used in different circumstances. Since they are fundamental parts of the English vocabulary, it is important that you learn to distinguish them in order to converse in English correctly. Below, we present the most common meanings and uses for these verbs.

To make

The verb to make means

  • To do something concrete, to make something

I make breakfast every morning.

I made a cheesecake.

I want to make a phone call.

  • To describe the material something is made of or its origin

This coat was made in Spain.

My ring is made of silver.

  • To describe a reaction

These children make me happy.

Don’t make me cry.


Some special expressions include:

  • To make friends

Bob is happy in his new school as he is making new friends.

  • To make money

That man doesn’t have values. His only objective is to make money.

  • To make a decision

I can’t make a decision.

  • To make an effort

Make an effort, please.

To do

The verb to do has a more general meaning. It shows the execution of a job, an activity, or a task. It specifically indicates,

  • The execution of a job or an activity that does not include the creation of anything physical

I am going to do my homework.

I love doing this job.

  • To carry out generic activities

I have a lot of things to do.

What are you doing?

  • In informal English, to do replaces a more specific verb

I need to do my hair.

I am going to do the dishes.

Some special expressions include

  • To do someone a favour

Could you do me a favour, please?

  • To do one’s best

I am sorry if you don’t like the painting, I am doing my best!

  • To do an exercise

I am doing exercise at the gym.

Listen to our podcast about phrasal verbs

Phrasal Verbs

Let’s look at some phrasal verbs that include to make and to do.

To make

To make over (renew, transform something)

I want to make over my bedroom.

To make off (escape, leave quickly

The thieves made off with the diamonds.

To make out (understand)

I can’t make out what my teacher is saying.

To do

To do away with (throw away, get rid of)

I did away with all of my old furniture.

To do in (kill, defeat, really tire out)

The marathon I ran this weekend really did me in.

To do (someone) good (benefit someone)

Let’s talk a bit. Letting out your feelings will do you good.


Now that you know the difference between the verbs to do and to make, Now that you know the difference between the verbs to do and to make, you can carry out a conversation in English with more confidence. A rich vocabulary is the basis of communication in any foreign language. Try to learn as many verbs as possible and do not neglect the phrasal verbs. Include as many as you can in conversation so that you can memorize them and thus learn to use them correctly.

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