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Do or make

What are the differences between ‘do‘ and ‘make’? I’ll try to be as concise and short as possible so let’s have a quick look.

(1) We use to do to talk about jobs and tasks:
  • Can you do what I asked please? (Implies a task)
  • Did you do your homework last night?
  • You’re doing odd things right now.
(2) We use to do to talk about all activities, anything that we don’t have a name for:
  • What is she doing?
  • I don’t like what she’s doing.
  • Did you do a noise?
  • What would you like to do?
(3) We use ‘do + gerund‘ (verb + ing) to talk about activities that take some time to complete (determiners are usually used with this construction):
  • Have you done any cycling today?
  • I did some running yesterday.
  • One should do a lot of reading, it’s important.
  • Let’s do some writing.
(4) We use make to talk about ‘constructing’ or ‘creating’:
  • We just made a new pastry in the kitchen.
  • Are you making a house?
  • Let’s make a cake, hmm.
  • My stepbrother is making a new apartment building.
(5) Apart from the rules, we also have a few exceptions to the rules that are fixed and need to be learnt by heart: 
  • Do: exercise, sport, business, good, harm, one’s duty, one’s teeth, one’s hair, one’s best, x amount of Km, a favour.
  • Make: money, a noise, a journey, an offer, a decision, an attempt, love, peace, war, a profit, a fortune, an exception, a mistake, an excuse, a suggestion, a fire, progress, a phone call, an effort, arrangements

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