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English Grammar and Writing Tips:
     Using "Do" and "Make" Correctly

Grammar <<< English Grammar and Writing Tips <<< Using "Do" and "Make"

The verbs "do" and "make" are often confused because they seem similar. Actually, there are differences between them that must be noted.

We use “do” to show that an action or activity is being performed:

Sorry, I can't go out now. I'm doing my homework. (correct)
Sorry, I can't go out now. I'm making my homework. (incorrect!)

Steve is very busy. He is doing the report. (correct)
Steve is very busy. He is making the report. (incorrect!)

“Do” is used to describe an activity that you have to do repeatedly. It is important to remember that “do” contains an element of duty and responsibility.

• do exercises
• do the housework
• do the table - -> clean the table
• do the dishes - -> wash the dishes
• do the dusting
• do the laundry - -> clean the clothes
• do the ironing
• do the shopping

She does exercises every morning. (do exercises - -> take care of your body) (correct)
She makes exercises every morning. (incorrect!)

My wife does the laundry every Sunday. (correct)
My wife makes the laundry every Sunday. (incorrect!)

Some more expressions with “do”:

• do the exam
• do a course - -> take a course
• do a good//bad/excellent job
• do good/well/badly
• do your best
• do your work
• do business
• do some reading
• do dinner - -> have dinner
• do time - -> spend time
• do someone a favour
• do someone a good turn
• do your hair - -> style your hair
• do your nails - -> paint your nails

„Do“ is also used to talk about general, non-specific actions with the words everything, something, anything, nothing, etc.

They do everything they can for their son. (correct)
I'm going to do something special for my mother's birthday. (correct)
What do you do at the moment? If you do not do anything, please help me. (correct)
Kate is used to do everything by herself. (correct)

We use „make” to say that we create or produce something that didn't exist before:

The carpenter made an wonderful wooden door for our new house. (correct)
The carpenter did an wonderful wooden door for our new house. (incorrect!)

Remember also, that we use “make” to express actions we choose to do:

She usually makes her own clothes. (correct)
She usually does her own clothes. (incorrect!)

You can also say that someone makes a drink or a meal (make breakfast/lunch/dinner).

Donna has just made a cup of coffee for her boyfriend. (correct)
My mother made a cake for the party. (correct)
Could you make me a sandwich, please? (correct)
Every morning my wife makes breakfast for our children. (correct)

Here are some more expressions/idioms with “make”:

• make drawings - -> create drawings
• make a picture - -> create a picture
• make exercises --> create exercises (for students' homework)
• make the report --> create the report
• make plans - -> create plans
• make time - -> create time
• make the dishes --> create some dishes
• make money --> earn money
• make an appointment
• make friends
• make amends
• make a visit/trip/journey/tour
• make an offer/suggestion
• make a promise
• make a decision/choice
• make a mistake
• make a noise
• make a note
• make arrangements
• make reservations
• make an attempt
• make a point of (doing something) --> to be especially careful to do something
• make your point - -> state your oppinion clearly
• make a mess
• make a speech
• make an excuse
• make a phone call
• make a living
• make a diagnosis
• make peace/war
• make room --> provide space
• make up one's mind --> to decide
• make a bed --> spread out the sheets on the bed
• make do (with something) --> to use something as an alternative

Mike made a plan to start his own business. (correct)
Next year Taylor's family will make a tour around the world. (correct)
I think that they made the wrong decision. (correct)
Peter made a lot of mistakes on the test yesterday. (correct)
James made a reservation for a dinner at a small restaurant near his office. (correct)
Our new neighbors have been making a noise all day. (correct)
The cat entered the house and made a mess all over the kitchen. (correct)
This is the shortest speech he has ever made. (correct)
Tom tried many jobs to make his living. (correct)
Doctor Brown examined the patient and made the final diagnosis. (correct)

There are many fixed expressions with „do” and “make”. Unfortunately, they don't follow any specific rules, so you have to memorise them.

When someone is usure what action to take we use “do” to say that they do not know what to do:

He doesn't know what to do to solve the problem. (correct)
He doesn't know what to make to solve the problem. (incorrect!)

If someone forces you to do something, you can say that they make you do it:

Tom made me do it. (correct)
The parents made their child do it. (correct)
You've got to make them listen. (correct)

Keep in mind that in active sentences, we do not use a “to” - infinitive after “make”:

Tom made me to do it. (incorrect!)
The parents made their child to do it. (incorrect!)
You've got to make them to listen. (incorrect!)

However, in passive sentences you must use a “to”- infinitive:

He is made to finish his homework. (correct)

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