Make and Do

Oh my oh my, make and do, what a problem! But why? It seems to me that the problem lies with the fact that, first, the verb hacer, is completely over used in the Spanish language, and, secondly, because in English we have two words for hacer instead of one.

Hopefully this will clear up any confusion you might have, beginning with:

Fixed Expressions with ‘Do’

  • do homework
  • do the dishes
  • do housework
  • do good
  • do harm
  • do your best
  • do a favor
  • do 50 mph
  • do business
  • do your duty
  • do your hair
  • do a deed
  • do penance / time
  • do right / wrong
  • do enough

Fixed Expressions with ‘Make’

Here are the some of the most common fixed expressions with ‘make’:

  • make an offer
  • make an exception
  • make a mistake
  • make peace / war
  • make love
  • make money / a profit
  • make a phone call
  • make an effort / attempt
  • make (a) noise
  • make a suggestion
  • make a decision
  • make an excuse
  • make progress
  • make arrangements

General Rules for ‘Do’

Use ‘do’ when speaking about vague, or indefinite activities. These include speaking in general using ‘-thing’ words such as something, anything, nothing, etc.

Examples

Are you going to do anything about it?
Let’s do something this afternoon.
I didn’t do anything wrong!

Use ‘do’ for activities. This includes any chores or daily tasks.

Examples

Hurry up and do the dishes
Did you do your chores?
I didn’t have time to do my homework

Use ‘do’ with various jobs and activities ending in ‘-ing’ such as do some gardening, do some thinking, do some painting, etc. This use tends to be informal in nature and can often be stated in a different manner. For example, ‘I did some studying this afternoon’ can be stated ‘I studied this afternoon’.

Examples

I did some thinking about your problem.
He did some reading this morning.
She’s going to do some resting on vacation.

General Rules for ‘Make’

Generally, use ‘make’ when actually constructing or creating something (in other words, NOT for activities).

Examples

I made a cup of tea for breakfast.
He made his daughter a rocking horse.
Did you make that wonderful bread?

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