Make or Do?

ESL - English as a Second Language In English, some things need to be easy to remember, and my English Learners like this little trick.

When you Do something, you can't touch, and when you MAKE something you can ...

That is the simplest way to memorize the difference. These two verbs are very similar in meaning.

In French or Spanish, there is no distinction between the two forms. If you think about the results it will help you.

Make often has the meaning of produce, create, or prepare. Do is usually the correct word when we are talking about a general activity; that is, we do not specify its nature.

Do is usually the correct word when we are talking about work. (In this sense it is often used with the -ing work activities: cooking, shopping, washing-up, sewing, cleaning, etc.).

In other cases, there are no clear rules. If in doubt, use MAKE. Be aware of the following common expressions:

... business
... good
... harm
... one's best
... somebody a favor
... well (= succeed)

... a decision
... a habit of
... a loss
... a mistake
... an attempt
... an effort
... an excuse
... an exception
... an offer
... a noise
... a profit
... a promise
... arrangements
... love, peace, war
... the most of (= take advantage of)


I don't know how to cook, but I can make great omelets.
He makes a lot of noise, when he is hungry.

I do my homework.
Do yourself a favor, and don't do her laundry.


Hi Gel, That's a great way to remember! I'm also a tutor and will remember to share your advice with my students. What city do you work from so that I can refer students to you? Thanks a bunch! Yvonne H. Pasadena, CA - Math/Science Tutor
Thank you, Yvonne I am in Conshohocken, PA. It's about 15 miles from Center City Philadelphia. It was originally a mill town and now is a modern little town. I can drive up to 20 miles from my house to help a student. I was in San Francisco a few years ago and I have a web design client in Chino... Thank you for your interest in referring me, I will do the same.


Gel S.

English & Brazilian Portuguese Instructor, 19428 Pennsylvania

20+ hours
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