Another difficult area, for many non native speakers, is working out when to use make or do. The problem is that they have very similar meanings, but they do have very different uses.

Do is generally used when we are talking about general and daily activities and when no physical object is produced.

What are you doing? I’m doing the housework.

I really hate doing the ironing.

I wish I didn’t have to do it.

Examples: Do the washing up

Do my homework

Do our jobs

We also often use do with, nothing, everything, anything, something.

It’s my day off tomorrow, would you like to do something?

Would you like to do lunch tomorrow?

I’ve done everything you asked me to do

Make, on the other hand, is very often used when we are talking about creating, building or constructing or producing something that we can actually touch, see, hear or smell (or, something we know exists).

I am making breakfast/lunch/supper                                                                          

He made a really beautiful box in his woodwork class

My grandmother used to make her own clothes.

The company will make a profit this year.

 

Do and make are also used with a large number of set expressions, (collocations) the problem is (rather like a lot of things in English!!!) there are no rules to help you decide and so these just have to be learnt. Sorry!

Follow this link to see a list of set expressions and to try out some exercises.


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