Vocabulary|words with ‘make’ or ‘do’

From speakspeak

Do and make are very similar but we use them differently.

  • We often use do to speak about everyday jobs: do the shoppingdo the dishes.
  • We use make when we create or produce something: the factory makes furnituremake some tea; make dinner.

Here are some examples of when to use make or do:

make coffee, tea I always make coffee after breakfast.
make something (produce) The factory makes furniture; Volvo makes cars.
make a mistake I made a mistake. I’m sorry.
make a promise You made me a promise. Please keep it!
make a decision Managers have to make hard decisions sometimes.
make a telephone call Excuse me, I have to make a telephone call.
make a profit Microsoft made a big profit last year.
make a mess The children made a mess in the kitchen.
make progress The students are making good progress with their English.


do something What are you doing? I’m not doing anything.
do an exam I did five exams and passed all of them.
do homework (from school) School kids have to do a lot of homework.
do housework I always do the housework at weekends.
do the shopping I hate doing the shopping in supermarkets.
do the dishes Who’s going to do the dishes after dinner?
do the ironing Her husband never does the ironing.
do an exercise I did all the exercises in my grammar book.
do business Our company does a lot of business in Asia.

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