The tricky points
between the verbs make
do in English
words do and make
are among the
commonest verbs in the English language.
Native English speakers do not mix them up; but they
can cause difficulty for speakers of other languages, as many other
languages have a single verb that corresponds to both do
they can all mean either do
or make in English.
Meanings and use
of do and make
The fundamental difference between do
and make is
generally focus on a process
expressions with make focus on the
result of a process
Do is generally
used in expressions that express actions:
do the shopping , do
do a competition, do something very stupid
In the expression "do the
shopping", the focus is on the action, i.e. buying
things in shops
generally used in expressions which focus on the result,
something that is created,
make a shopping-list,
make a mistake, make lunch, make a lot of
noise, make money
In the expression "make a shopping list",
we are not really interested in the process, but in the result, i.e. the
list that exists once it has been
can also imply cause :
Take care ! It is not always easy to say if the meaning of a
verb is focused on the action or the result of the action.
The most significant uses of do
in English are
Common English expressions using do
There are also some idiomatic uses of do, including a couple of prepositional uses
of the verb to do, notably :
do a job / the housework / your homework / the washing up /
the shopping etc.
To do something wrong / right.
To do something very quickly / slowly / clever / stupid / etc.
To do your best / To do well
To do business with someone
That will do meaning That is enough
To do without, as in There
was no bread left, so we had to do without it at dinner.
To do up, as in The
house looked very old, but they did it up and now it looks like new.
The verb make usually
implies cause or creation. It is used four main ways.
- as a
causative verb as in
made him tell me all about his holidays .
The things he said made me
- as a
standard verb (a lexical verb) meaning
as in :
Did you make that cake
I've made lunch for everyone.
They make Ford cars in
He doesn't make much money working as a barman..
- In a number of prepositional
verbs or phrasal verbs (see prepositional verbs),
To make do with (
= to be satisfied by or to manage with)
Example: There was
no beer, so they had to make do with water.
To make out (
= to claim, to pretend, or to distinguish)
To make up (
= to invent, or to become friends again)
To make up for (
= to compensate for)
To make it (= to succeed)
Examples : I made it !!! or Manchester United made it into the semi-finals.
- as a verb stressing result or consequence or
the object (the thing that is made) in a number of
common expressions. For example, in the expression
to make a statement, it is the statement
we are interested in, not usually the process of making it.
Common English expressions using make
make breakfast / a cup of tea / a cup of coffee / a sandwich ... etc.
To make a complaint
To make a discovery
To make an effort
To make an enemy
To make an exception
To make an excuse
To make a fortune (= to make lots of money)
To make friends with
To make a move
To make an offer
To make peace
To make a phone call
To make a point
To make progress
To make a resolution
To make a statement
To make a success of something
To make a suggestion
To make up one's mind
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