Make or do – The rules we follow

Make or do? Do you ever wonder which verb to use? We have some good news and some bad news. The good news is there are some rules we follow and you can learn them in this video. You’ll see how we use do for non-specific activities and work and how we use make with creative tasks. The bad news is there’s still more work to do because we use these verbs in lots of common expressions that you’ll need to learn one by one. But not to worry. We have another video with some of the common ones here.

Click here to see another video about make and do.
Click here to see some more vocabulary videos.

Make or Do? The rules we follow

Can you do this for me?
No problem.
Thank you! That was Jason. He does a lot of work for me. That was Jay. He makes a lot of work for me.

Make and do. Do you ever wonder which verb to use in English? I have some good news and some bad news. Let’s start with the good news. There are some rules we follow and you can learn them in this video. These rules will help you get them right. Let’s start with do.

Do you want to come shopping with me?
Oh yes. Oh, but I need to do my hair first.
Oh. How long will that take?

Doing your hair is a non-specific activity. It might mean washing it, or straightening it, or maybe just brushing it. Do is a general purpose verb we use for unspecified activities.

Oh, we’d love to see you. OK. Half an hour. Bye.
They’re coming in half an hour?
Yeah.
You do the kitchen and I’ll do the living room. OK.

These are non-specific actions. Doing might mean cleaning, putting things away, or hoovering or vacuuming as they say in American English.
So here’s the rule. With non-specific activities, use ‘do’. We use it when we don’t say exactly what action we’re talking about. It’s just something.

Do you need a hand?
Ah, no thanks. I think I’ve done everything.
Ah, great.
Jay, why didn’t you wake me?
It’s Sunday.
Oh! We’re not doing anything today.
Ah!
What’s the matter?
I’m bored. I have nothing to do.
Argh! Argh! Argh! Help! Do something!

So if you’re talking about everything, anything, nothing, or something, say ‘do’. Do is non-specific.
OK, next one. We also use ‘do’ when we’re talking about work. So we do homework. We do housework and chores, those small jobs around the house that we all have to do.
Ah!

What’s the matter? I’m bored.
I have nothing to do.
Well, you could do the laundry.

We do jobs like the shopping, and our taxes.

You need to do your taxes.
Ooo, don’t remind me. I don’t want to think about it.

So here’s another rule. We often use do when we’re talking about jobs and work.
Now let’s look at ‘make’. We use ‘make’ to talk about creative activities, when we bring something new into existence.

Are you making something?
Yes, it’s a light for my hat, so I can see where I’m walking in the dark.
It might need a little more work.

Cooking is a creative activity and we often use make to talk about food we prepare. So we can make salads and pasta and cakes and lots of other meals and snacks.

So make yourself at home, Jason.
Thanks.
Yeah, make yourself a snack.
Great.
You could make a sandwich, and we’ve got beer.
If you’re making a sandwich, make one for me too.

Great. So let’s review. Do is the most common verb and we use it for non-specific activities, when we don’t say exactly what action we’re talking about. And we also use do when we’re talking about work and jobs we have to do.
Then make. We generally use make when we’re talking about creating or producing something.
And that’s it. Those are the key rules we follow.
Now, do you remember said there was some bad news. The bad news is there’s still more work to do.
We use these verbs in lots of common expressions which you need to learn one by one. But it’s not all bad news because we can help you. Subscribe to our channel and we’ll show you lots of examples. We publish new videos every Friday with conversations and stories, so you can see English in action. In fact, let’s have one more example now, before we stop.

What are you making.
Oh. A paper aeroplane.
Oh cool! Do you want to make one too?
Yes.
Here.
Oh thank you.
Well, that’s true. But you know it took…. Who did that?

Click here to see another video about make and do.
Click here to see some more vocabulary videos.

4 thoughts on “Make or do – The rules we follow

  • May 26, 2018 at 4:19 am
    Permalink

    Thank you for these useful lessons. I am a Nurse and I want to work in England. So I need to learn English.

    Reply
    • May 26, 2018 at 5:22 am
      Permalink

      Great to meet you Gyongyver and we’re so glad the videos are useful. Thanks for writing and good luck in our nursing career.

      Reply
  • May 29, 2018 at 1:11 am
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    It’s so good to have these nice lessons ! Thank to your generous sharing so much !

    Reply
    • June 1, 2018 at 2:57 pm
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      So glad you like them Wesly. Thank you so much for writing.

      Reply

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