Two children making food

Learn the Difference Between “Do” vs “Make” in English

Maria Claudia Alvarado Published on November 9, 2023

“Make” and “do” are easily confused because they both indicate that an action is being performed. At first glance, it seems like they have the same meaning, but this isn’t true. “Make” and “do” apply to different contexts, so it’s important to understand how to use them correctly. In this article, we’ll teach you how to use these two English verbs for the right purpose and situation.

Basic Difference between DO and MAKE 

The main difference between “do” and “make” narrows down to their function. In English, we use the verb “do” with general tasks, activities, or actions. “Do” can also be used to talk about sports, hobbies, work, and more. On the other hand, the verb “make” is used when talking about creating or producing something. For example, you can use “make” with daily activities like making a card, making a sweater, making a snowman, and more. Here are some more example sentences to help you see the differences:

-I often make dinner at night.

-You do laundry on the weekend.

-We do our homework every day.

-She makes a costume for her dog.

-He does yoga frequently.

-They make hats for the birthday party.

Two children making food

When to Use the Verb “Do”

To Describe General Actions

“Do” is the most common verb we use to describe the actions we carry out. We can use the verb “do” to tell others we are completing an anction. You can also use “do” to ask others to complete a task for you or to express that you have finished doing something. For example:

-Can you do my homework for me?

-She does the dishes for her mother.

-We are doing a project for school.

As an Affirmation or To Add Emphasis

We can use “do” to emphasize an action that is very true. English speakers often use “do” in this manner to remind people about things they often do, like, or think. In this case, the verb do is used as an auxiliary verb. These are some examples:

– I do enjoy going out for a walk.

-We do listen to relaxing music while we work.

-She does know how to throw a fun party.

To Make a Question

Similarly, you can use “do” as an auxiliary verb to another verb in a question. This helps us turn a declarative statement into a query. Note that questions that use “do” can usually be answered with a simple yes or no because they are asking if you can perform an action or have specific knowledge. Let’s see some examples:

Do you know how to bake sugar cookies?

Does he know how to clean the fish tank?

Do you know what’s wrong with the TV?

When to Use the Verb “Make”

To Create Something

We use the verb “make” to talk about an action that produces something physical. This is a simple way to describe what or why you created something. You can also apply “make” in this manner to tell others about things you craft on a regular basis. For example:

-We made bracelets for our friends.

-The teacher made cookies for her students.

-My sister and I make breakfast for my mother every day.

To Show Cause

In this case, “make” serves to explain the cause of a reaction. You can use it with actions, events, expressions, or even feelings. Remember, we’re using “make” to connect the consequence with the cause. Here are some examples:

-The thunder made the cat run away.

-His jokes always make me laugh.

-Rude people make me angry.

To Explain What or How Something Was Produced

With “make,” you can also talk about how we built something. We use “make” in this way to list materials, or the process of construction. If you want to talk about a building or other object you’re observing, you can also use “make” to describe the materials you can clearly see. Note that you must use “make” in the past tense if the object already exists. Here are some examples:

-I made this bookcase by cutting different pieces of wood.

-The sculpture was made completely out of wire.

-They made the house with bricks and stone.

To Reach a Decision

You can use the verb” make” to inform others that you have come to a decision. This use of “make” has some similarities with cause and consequence, but it focuses more on the decision itself than what provoked it. Remember that you must use the past tense of “make” because you are talking about a decision that is already done. Let’s see some examples:

-The family made the decision to sell the house.

-After the storm, the school made the decision to cancel the football game.

-Once he had enough money, their father made the decision to buy another car.


In English, we use make to explain the impression an action has made on other people. We use make in this way to tell others how we felt after doing something or what actions something caused. You can also use make in this manner to talk about the influence movies, books, games, and more have had on you. Note that you must use make in the past tense. Here are some example sentences:

-The book made the readers care about climate change.

-Her speech made her family lose interest in tanning beds.

-The movie made the public think about the past.

Common Expressions with “Do”

Here are some common English expressions that use the verb do:

Do what’s best for you. (Tells you to choose the option that you think or feel is better for you)

Do your thing. (Tells you to perform an action you’re skilled at)

Do what you have to do. (Tells you to do what you think it’s necessary)

Common Expressions with “Make”

These are some commonly used expressions you might hear with the verb make: 

-You can’t make me do it. (Used to indicate that you won’t obey or comply with someone else’s orders)

-You have to make peace with it. (Advises you to forgive and forget)

-Don’t make up excuses. (Tells you to stop trying to justify an action or lack of action)

Make an effort. (Tells someone to work hard for something)

Do vs Make: Frequent Errors and Exceptions

The most frequent error people have when using “do” vs “make” is using one instead of the other out of confusion. The easiest way to avoid falling into this mistake is to remember that we use “make” when our actions have a physical product, while “do” is for general actions and tasks. The context of a sentence can give you a clear clue about which one you need to apply, so make sure to review each use carefully beforehand.

However, the are some common collocations that are exceptions to the rule. For example, you might hear English speakers say, “Make an exception.” While making an exception doesn’t have a physical product, this is a correct phrase used to tell others to allow something that usually isn’t. “Do your best” is another common expression used in English that steps out of the rules for the verb “do.” Instead of pointing out an action, “do your best” tells you to make your best effort, which isn’t a concrete action in itself. 

How to Practice the Difference Between “Makd” and “Do”

The best way to learn the difference between make and do is to find English resources that can help you practice. You can use English textbooks to exercise your grammar skills or hire a tutor to address any doubts you have about the language. Online English courses can also provide interactive exercises and other additional materials to improve your English skills.

Many English students have also learned using multimedia resources like TV series, books, YouTube videos, or news articles. If you know any English speakers, you can also practice speaking in English and use make and do to improve your conversational skills. Finding a study method you enjoy can make learning English feel less like a chore and more fun,  

“Do” vs “Make”: Final Thoughts

While understanding what’s the difference between “make” vs “do” can be hard at first, these two verbs are easy to apply once you are familiar with their differences and uses. Remember that you need to have a clear idea of the context in which you want to use these verbs before you decide which one fits best. This is the easiest way to guarantee you use “make” and “do” like a native speaker.

Maria Claudia Alvarado

Maria Alvarado is a content writer and translator from Lima, Peru. She graduated from the Savannah College of Arts and Design in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Writing. She is fluent in Spanish and English, has intermediate knowledge of French and German, and is learning Japanese. She hopes to bring consciousness about the importance of language learning through her articles and aspires to learn as many languages as possible.

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