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  ENGLISH GRAMMAR for ESL learners  


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 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?"

The following table gives a list of words and expressions that are most frequently used with 'make' and 'do':

  • an appointment
  • arrangements/plans
  • an attempt
  • a bed
  • breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • a cake, an omelette, a sandwich
  • a change/changes
  • a choice, a decision
  • a comment
  • a complaint
  • a declaration
  • a deal
  • a discovery
  • a difference / an exception
  • friends
  • an effort
  • an enquiry
  • an excuse
  • fun of something/somebody
  • an impression
  • a mistake
  • money
  • a noise, a sound
  • an offer
  • a phone call
  • a point
  • a presentation
  • a profit, a loss
  • progress
  • a reservation
  • room for something (find place for)
  • a speech
  • a statement
  • a suggestion
  • sure / certain
  • a threat
  • a wish
  • the accounts
  • an assignment
  • badly, well
  • business
  • one's 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
  • a good job
  • your homework
  • the housework
  • the laundry, the ironing
  • a lesson
  • a job
  • justice
  • military service
  • your nails / hair / make-up
  • a project
  • research
  • (something) right/wrong
  • the shopping
  • sport(s)
  • a survey
  • a test
  • a translation
  • work
  • without something

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Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.

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