The Difference between Make and Do

Shana Goodwin, July 14, 2021

Two verbs that are often confused in English are “make” and “do.” Although there are many set phrases with either word that English learners will simply have to memorize, there are some general rules to help you learn whether to use “make” or “do.”

When Should I Use Make?
  1. Creating, building, or producing something. Example: That chair is made from lapacho wood. My uncle made it twenty years ago.
  2. Producing a reaction or response. Example: That movie always makes me cry.
  3. Decisions or plans. Example: She hasn’t made a decision about which college to attend.
  4. Meals, food, and beverages. Example: My husband knows how to make delicious and refreshing cocktails.
  5. Sounds and speaking. Examples: The cat made a strange noise as it jumped onto the wall. Shhh! Don't make any noise, the children are sleeping.
When Should I Use Do?
  1. Work or tasks. Example: You need to do your homework every day.
  2. Replacing specific verbs when the meaning is clear. Examples: After she did (washed) the dishes, she did (brushed) her hair. If I do the kitchen floor, can you do the bathroom? (when talking about cleaning)
  3. General activities. Example: Is there anything I can do to help with the party?
Phrases with Make and Do

There are probably hundreds of phrases with “make” and “do” plus nouns or adverbs. The more of these you can learn, the better! Below is a list of some of the most common” words used with “make” and “do.


  • a bet
  • a call
  • a change
  • a connection
  • a difference
  • a discovery
  • a face
  • a fool of yourself
  • a fortune
  • a friend
  • a living
  • a mess
  • a mistake
  • a point
  • a profit
  • a promise
  • a reservation
  • a scene
  • an announcement
  • an appointment
  • an effort
  • an escape
  • an excuse
  • an impression
  • certain
  • clear
  • famous
  • fun of someone
  • money
  • one’s bed
  • one’s mind up
  • peace
  • possible
  • progress
  • room
  • sense
  • sure
  • trouble


  • a course
  • a crossword
  • a dance
  • a drawing
  • a favor
  • anything
  • badly
  • everything
  • exercises
  • good
  • nothing
  • poorly
  • research
  • the right thing
  • something
  • the dishes
  • the laundry
  • the shopping
  • well
  • your best