How to Use “Make” and “Do” in English

It can be difficult to know when to use “make” and when to use “do”. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice.

Using make

1. We use “make” for more creative activities:

“She makes her own clothes.”

“He made a beautiful hat for the wedding.”

2. We also use “make” to describe functions of speech – what we are doing when we speak.

For example:

You make
… an offer
… an appointment
… an arrangement
… a promise
… a threat
… a compromise
… a suggestion
… a promise
… a mistake
… a decision
… a point
… a complaint
… an excuse

3. There are also some “fixed expressions” with “make”:

“They made friends when they were at primary school.”

“He made fun of her new hairstyle.”

Other expressions are:

… make a fuss
… make a fortune
… make money
… make a profit / a loss
… make a journey
… make an effort
… make progress
… make a mess
… make a telephone call
… make a choice

One expression that uses either “do” or “make” is:
make a deal / do a deal (“I’ll do it if you help me.”)

Using do

1. We use “do” to refer to jobs, or responsibilities. These are often routine things, which do not involve much creativity or fun:

“I do the shopping once a week.”

“He does the gardening every weekend.”

“We have to do a lot of work on the house.”

You also do:
… your homework
… the housework
… a job
… the paperwork
… an exam

2. There are some fixed expressions that you can learn which use “do”:

“She does a lot of good in the community.”

“This chemical can do a lot of harm.”

“She always does favours for her colleagues.” (Do someone a favour = help someone)

Other expressions are:

… do something well / badly
… do your best
… do something right / wrong
… do the minimum / the maximum
… do damage

Make and Do

Choose the correct answer.