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Difference between DO and MAKE – 60 common English collocations

Difference between do and make

DO for actions; MAKE for creating

Do you know the difference between DO and MAKE?

These two words can be confusing, but I’ll teach you the difference – and teach you 60 common collocations with example sentences to help you!

Basic Difference between DO and MAKE

  • Use DO for actions, obligations, and repetitive tasks.
  • Use MAKE for creating or producing something, and for actions you choose to do.
  • DO generally refers to the action itself, and MAKE usually refers to the result. For example, if you “make breakfast,” the result is an omelet! If you “make a suggestion,” you have created a recommendation.

Common English Collocations with DO

HOUSEWORK

  • do the housework
    After I got home from the office, I was too tired to do the housework.
  • do the laundry
    I really need to do the laundry – I don’t have any clean clothes left!
  • do the dishes
    I’ll make dinner if you do the dishes afterwards.
    (you can also say “wash the dishes”)
  • do the shopping
    I went to the bank, did some shopping, and mailed a package at the post office.

EXCEPTION: make the bed = putting blankets, sheets, and pillows in the correct place so that the bed looks nice and not messy.

WORK / STUDY

  • do work
    I can’t go out this weekend – I have to do some work on an extra project.
  • do homework
    You can’t watch any TV until you’ve done your homework.
  • do business
    We do business with clients in fifteen countries.
  • do a good/great/terrible job
    She did a good job organizing the party.
    (in this expression, “job” doesn’t necessarily refer to work. It simply means the person did something well)
  • do a report
    I’m doing a report on the history of American foreign policy.
    (you can also say “writing a report”)
  • do a course
    We’re doing a course at the local university.
    (you can also say “taking a course”)

TAKING CARE OF YOUR BODY

  • do exercise
    I do at least half an hour of exercise every day.
  • do your hair (= style your hair)
    I’ll be ready to go in 15 minutes – I just need to do my hair.
  • do your nails (= paint your nails)
    Can you open this envelope for me? I just did my nails and they’re still wet.

GENERAL GOOD OR BAD ACTIONS

  • do anything / something / everything / nothing
    Are you doing anything special for your birthday?
    You can’t do everything by yourself – let me help you.
  • do well
    I think I did pretty well in the interview.
  • do badly
    Everyone did badly on the test – the highest grade was 68.
  • do good
    The non-profit organization has done a lot of good in the community.
  • do the right thing
    When I found someone’s wallet on the sidewalk, I turned it in to the police because I wanted to do the right thing.
  • do your best
    Don’t worry about getting everything perfect – just do your best.

Common English Collocations with MAKE

FOOD

  • make breakfast/lunch/dinner
    I’m making dinner – it’ll be ready in about ten minutes.
  • make a sandwich
    Could you make me a turkey sandwich?
  • make a salad
    I made a salad for the family picnic.
  • make a cup of tea
    Would you like me to make you a cup of tea?
  • make a reservation
    I’ve made a reservation for 7:30 at our favorite restaurant.

MONEY

  • make money
    I enjoy my job, but I don’t make very much money.
  • make a profit
    The new company made a profit within its first year.
  • make a fortune
    He made a fortune after his book hit #1 on the bestseller list.
  • make $_______
    I made $250 selling my old CDs on the internet.

RELATIONSHIPS

  • make friends
    It’s hard to make friends when you move to a big city.
  • make love (= have sex)
    The newlyweds made love on the beach during their honeymoon.
  • make a pass at (= flirt with someone)
    My best friend’s brother made a pass at me – he asked if I was single and tried to get my phone number.
  • make fun of someone (= tease / mock someone)
    The other kids made fun of Jimmy when he got glasses, calling him “four eyes.”
  • make up (= resolve a problem in a relationship)
    Karen and Jennifer made up after the big fight they had last week.

COMMUNICATION

  • make a phone call
    Please excuse me – I need to make a phone call.
  • make a joke
    He made a joke, but it wasn’t very funny and no one laughed.
  • make a point
    Dana made some good points during the meeting; I think we should consider her ideas.
  • make a bet
    I made a bet with Peter to see who could do more push-ups.
  • make a complaint
    We made a complaint with our internet provider about their terrible service, but we still haven’t heard back from them.
  • make a confession
    I need to make a confession: I was the one who ate the last piece of cake.
  • make a speech
    The company president made a speech about ethics in the workplace.
  • make a suggestion
    Can I make a suggestion? I think you should cut your hair shorter – it’d look great on you!
  • make a prediction
    It’s difficult to make any predictions about the future of the economy.
  • make an excuse
    When I asked him if he’d finished the work, he started making excuses about how he was too busy.
  • make a promise
    I made a promise to help her whenever she needs it.
    (you can also say, “I promised to help her whenever she needs it.”)
  • make a fuss (= demonstrate annoyance)
    Stop making a fuss – he’s only late a couple minutes. I’m sure he’ll be here soon.
  • make an observation
    I’d like to make an observation about our business plan – it’s not set in stone, so we can be flexible.
  • make a comment
    The teacher made a few critical comments on my essay.

EXCEPTION: Don’t say “make a question.” The correct phrase is “ask a question.”

PLANS & PROGRESS

  • make plans
    We’re making plans to travel to Australia next year.
  • make a decision/choice
    I’ve made my decision – I’m going to go to New York University, not Boston University.
  • make a mistake
    You made a few mistakes in your calculations – the correct total is $5430, not $4530.
  • make progress
    My students are making good progress. Their spoken English is improving a lot.
  • make an attempt / effort (= try)
    I’m making an effort to stop smoking this year.
  • make up your mind (= decide)
    Should I buy a desktop or a laptop computer? I can’t make up my mind.
  • make a discovery
    Scientists have made an important discovery in the area of genetics.
  • make a list
    I’m making a list of everything we need for the wedding: invitations, decorations, a cake, a band, the dress…
  • make sure (= confirm)
    Can you make sure we have enough copies of the report for everybody at the meeting?
  • make a difference
    Getting eight hours of sleep makes a big difference in my day. I have more energy!
  • make an exception
    Normally the teacher doesn’t accept late homework, but she made an exception for me because my backpack was stolen with my homework inside it.

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