Should I Use 'Make' or 'Do?'

13 December, 2019

Question: This week we answer a question from Hamza. She writes, "What is the difference between "make" & "do"? How and when should I use them?"


Dear Hamza,

Ask a Teacher

"Make" and "do" are similar verbs in English. There are some words that go together with "make" and others that go together with "do." In other words, there are fixed expressions in English with both of these verbs, and you just have to learn them. But there are general rules you can follow:

  • Use "make" for when you create or produce something.
  • Use "do" for actions you must do, like jobs or work, and for general activities, especially activities you repeat often.

Let's look at some examples of each verb.


Here are examples of "make" for things we produce. These can be something you can touch, like food and drinks.

I made a cake for your birthday.

Please make some tea before you leave.

Sometimes you cannot see or touch the thing that is created.

Your dog is making too much noise.

We are making progress on our study.

She made plans to go to a movie with her sister.


Let's look at use of "do" for work or jobs. In another "Ask a Teacher" we talked about the questions, "What do you do? and "What are you doing?" Here are some other examples of using "do" to talk about work at home.

I have to do the planting every fall.

Mom says, "No TV until you do your homework."

Another way to use "do" is with words like "something," "anything" and "nothing."

I did not do anything yesterday.

Are you doing something interesting over the holiday?

The police did nothing to stop the crimes.

Next time you are trying to decide between "make" and "do," please keep these rules in mind. The more you listen to and read English, the easier it will be to choose between these verbs.

Do you have a question for the VOA English teachers? Please email us with your question. Our email is

I'm Jill Robbins.

Jill Robbins wrote this story for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story

caken. a sweet cooked food, often eaten to celebrate something.

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