Language Focus: common collocations for the verb make and do
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The verbs do and make are easy to confuse in English. Here are some guidelines and exercises to study.
Guidelines for the Verb Make
‘To make’ something is to create something. Something wasn’t there, and then you made it. For example, you make a mistake. There was no mistake and then you created it; you made it. To make is to create something that did not exist before.
The children made a mess.
Common Expressions with the Verb Make
- an excuse
- a joke
- an effort/attempt
- an offer/request
- a choice/decision
- a mistake/error
- a profit
- a fire
- a mess
- a phone call
- a reservation
- a wish
- a bed (this means to put the sheets on a bed neatly)
Guidelines for the Verb Do
We use do for actions and tasks. For example, we do our homework. Who makes your homework? Your teacher does. S/he creates it (makes it). And then you do it.
- your homework
- your job/duty
- your best
- a favour
- your share/part
We use do for household chores and beauty.
- the laundry
- the dishes (this means to wash the dishes)
- your hair (this means to style your hair)
- your makeup
- your nails
- the ironing
- the washing
We also use do for activities (like sports) that do not have their own verb.
- karate / taekwondo / judo
These guidelines can be helpful, but there are exceptions. For example, to make a bed means to put the sheets on the bed neatly. But this is not really an act of creation (we aren’t creating a bed). So why do we use make? Probably because this is how people decided to speak a long time ago. The best way to learn the differences between the verbs make and do is to practice. Try these practice exercises.
Practice Exercises: Make or Do?
- John didn’t get the job because he a mistake on his application.
- The hikers decide to a fire at the side of the lake.
- Students can research in the library.
- The company a profit last year, thankfully.
- When their parents were away, the children a mess.
- Kate her friend a favour yesterday. She drove her to the airport.
- The negative advertising campaign damage to the company’s reputation.
- We didn’t feel like dinner, so we decided to a reservation at our favourite restaurant.
- Olivia her best to yoga every morning.
- I wanted to work for the company, but they did not me an offer. So I’m still unemployed and not any money.
- Mike friends easily. In fact, yesterday when he was karate, he met a funny guy named Ricardo.
- The little boy a wish and then blew out the candles on his birthday cake.
- Johnson is worried that her son isn’t progress at school. He’s not well. He doesn’t his homework regularly. He needs to an effort to improve. Otherwise, he will fail his classes.
- Alan’s daughter is hardworking. She her share of the housework. For example, yesterday she her bed, the dishes, the laundry, and she the ironing. She even coffee in the morning.
- Roger isn’t a good worker. He a lot of jokes at work. When his boss asks him why he isn’t his work, he always an excuse. Often he phone calls to his girlfriend at the office. I wish he would his job. When we hired him, I think we a bad decision.
- Last night, Brenda plans to go to a dance club. Before she left, she her hair, she her makeup, and she her nails. She left some dirty dishes in the sink because she didn’t want to the washing. After dancing, she and her friends karaoke until 3 a.m.
I hope these exercises have helped you learn the difference between make and do. We have many other pages on the differences between difficult words in English. To view them, go to the Grammar menu above and select Word Differences.
If you have a question about this lesson or find a mistake, please leave a comment below.
— Created by Matthew Barton (copyright) of Englishcurrent.com