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  ENGLISH GRAMMAR for ESL learners  

MAKE vs DO:  When to use them.

Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule in English concerning the use of make and do.
In general, however, we use 'make' when we build, construct or create something and 'do' for tasks and activities.


Make’ is used to talk about producing, constructing, creating or building something new.

  • Make a cake
  • Make a dress
  • Make a bracelet

Make' is also used to talk about the materials used to make something, or the country where it is produced.

  • The belt is made of genuine leather.
  • The toy was made in China.

Do’ is used to talk about work, a job, a task or household activities.

  • Do a translation
  • Do the gardening
  • Do your homework

Do’ is also used for general activities without being specific.

  • What are you doing this week-end?
  • She does everything around the house.
  • I’m bored doing nothing. Can I do anything to help?
'Do' is also an auxiliary verb for making questions in the present tense:   "Do you like fish?"


  • an appointment
  • an appearance
  • arrangements/plans
  • an attempt
  • a bed
  • breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • a booking
  • a cake, an omelette, a sandwich
  • a call
  • a change/changes
  • a choice, a decision
  • a comment
  • a complaint
  • a compromise
  • a decision
  • a declaration
  • a deal
  • a discovery
  • a difference / an exception
  • friends
  • an effort
  • an enquiry
  • an excuse
  • a fortune
  • fun of something/somebody
  • a fuss
  • an impression
  • a mistake
  • money
  • a noise, a sound
  • an offer
  • a phone call
  • a point
  • a presentation
  • a profit, a loss
  • progress
  • a promise
  • a remark
  • a reservation/booking
  • room for something (find place for)
  • a sound
  • a speech
  • a statement
  • a suggestion
  • sure / certain
  • a threat
  • a wish
  • the accounts
  • an assignment
  • badly, well
  • business
  • your best
  • the crosswords
  • damage, harm
  • a degree / a course
  • the dishes, the washing up
  • a drawing
  • drugs (consume/use)
  • your duty
  • an exam
  • exercises
  • a favour
  • the gardening
  • a good turn
  • good / harm
  • your hair
  • your make-up
  • your nails
  • a job / a good job / your job
  • your work
  • your homework
  • the housework
  • the laundry, the ironing
  • a lesson
  • justice
  • the minimum / the maximum
  • 50 miles an hour
  • military service
  • a project
  • research
  • (something) right/wrong
  • the accounts
  • a puzzle
  • (somebody) a service
  • the shopping
  • sport(s)
  • a survey
  • a test
  • time (spend time in prison)
  • a translation
  • a u-turn
  • what's best
  • nothing/something
  • without something

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