Exercise – To Do or To Make – That is the question?

To Do or To Make  – That is the question?

The two verbs ‘do’ and ‘make’ are often confused. The meanings are similar, but there are differences.

‘Do’ for Activities

Use the verb ‘do’ to express daily activities or jobs. Notice that these are usually activities that produce no physical object.

Use do for actions, activities, chores and expressions.

1. Actions – exercise, meditation, karate, joga

2. Activities – a crossword, sudoku

3. Chores / Tasks – homework, housework, dishes, do a job

4. Expressions – to do badly, to do your best, do a favour, do your hair etc…


‘Do’ for General Ideas

Use the verb ‘do’ when speaking about things in general. In other words, when we do not exactly name an activity. This form is often used with the words ‘something, nothing, anything, everything, etc.

I’m not doing anything today.

He does everything for his mother.

She’s doing nothing at the moment.

Important Expressions with ‘Do’

There are a number of standard expressions that take the verb ‘do’. These are standard collocations (verb + noun combinations) that are used in English.

do one’s best

do good

do harm

do a favour

do business

Using do

We use “do” to refer to jobs, or responsibilties. 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.”

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’ for Constructing, Building, Creating

Use ‘make’ to express an activity that creates something that you can touch.

We use “make” for constructing, building, creating.

Make a dress

Make lunch / food

make a cup of tea / coffee

make a mess

Important Expressions with ‘Make’

There are a number of standard expressions that take the verb ‘make’.

make plans

make an exception

make arrangements

make a telephone call

make a decision

make a mistake

make noise

make money

make an excuse

make an effort

We use “make” for more creative activities:

“She makes her own clothes.”

“He made a beautiful hat for the wedding.”

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

You make

… an offer (I’ll pay you $500 for your car)

… an appointment (Can we meet at 9 am?)

… an arrangement (Let’s meet at the station.)

… a promise (I’ll help you with this photocopying.)

… a threat (If you do that again, I’ll tell him.)

… a compromise

… a suggestion

… a promise

… a mistake

… a decision

… a point

… a complaint

… an excuse

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

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

“He made fun of her new hairstyle.”

Important Expressions with ‘Make’

There are a number of standard expressions that take the verb ‘make’. The best solution is to try to learn them.

make amends

make arrangements

make believe – (to pretend)

make a choice

make a comment

make a decision

make a difference

make an effort

make an enquiry

make an excuse

make a fool of yourself

make a fortune

make friends

make a fuss

make a journey

make love

make a mess

make a mistake

make money

make a move

make a noise

make a phone call

make a plan

make a point

make a profit

make a promise

make a remark

make a sound

make a speech

make a suggestion

make time

make a visit

make your bed – (to prepare the bed for sleeping in)


Exercise 1.

1.    If you set up a business, it’s generally to _______ money.

2.    I can’t give the answer right away.  I’ll have to ______ some research.

3.    I’m very pleased with the result.  You ______ a great job!

4.    When I ________ a mistake, my teacher corrects me and explains why.

5.    What are you studying?  I’m __________ a degree in history.

6.    You’ll have to work hard if you want to ________ progress.

7.    Stop ________ fun of my accent – it’s not my fault!

8.    It doesn’t have to be perfect – just ______ your best.

9.    I’ve got a toothache.  I’m going to ring the dentist to ___________ an appointment.

10.   It’s not easy to _________ business with people of different nationalities.

 Exercise 2. (Do, make or take?)

  1. They’re __________ a lot of noise, but so far they haven’t made any progress.
  1. The company is making a large profit, but in the meantime they’re __________ a lot of damage to the environment.
  1. She was asked _______ to a quick speech, but she took her time.
  1. After we’ve done our homework, I think we should  ___________ the washing up.
  1. _________ a look at all these mistakes you’ve made.
  1. Shall we ____________ a taxi or go by train?
  1. At first, he made a great effort to _________ an interest in his lessons.
  1. This is a photograph I _________ of some friends we made when we were on holiday.
  1. She told me to take a seat, and then went to _______ some phone calls.
  1. Taking a test is a bit like ________ a crossword: you finish it eventually!
  1. The policeman took my name and address, and ________ a few notes.
  1. We had to _________ a lot of work before we began to make any money.
  1. The conference will _______ place in January.
  1. You really should take my advice and hire somebody to ______ your ironing, washing and other housework.
  1. After I had made the bed, he lay down and _______ his medicine.
  1. It won’t do any harm to ________ some enquiries.
  1. Our company made a loss in its first year, but now we’re _________ well.

Exercise 3. (Common expressions and uses)

I’m an engineer. What do you ______ ?

I’ll be back later. I’m going to ______ the shopping.

I just cannot find the time to ______ the accounts. I’m way behind with my work.

I’d like you to ______ more of an effort.

I’m going to night school. I really want to ______ something of myself.

Do you like this skirt? I ______ it myself.

I didn’t win the competition but I ______ my best.

I’m ______ enquiries about flights to Miami.

I know you want to help but you are ______ more harm than good.

Could you ______ me a favour?

I was really frightened. He was ______ more than 200 kpm. That’s about 125 mph!

I don’t promise anything but I’ll ______ my best.

Is there anywhere I could ______ a phone call?

Don’t tell them about it. It’s not worth ______ a fuss.

I don’t see how we can ______ a profit in this market.

I’ve ______ all the necessary arrangements.

Someone has to ______ a decision.

What shall we ______ now?

I don’t usually go to parties but in this case I will ______ an exception.

Could you ______ me a favour?

Additional Materials.

YouTube Video: Jon Teaches English

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