Do or do – how do and make work in English

There are many small nuances in English that you need to know. There are words that seem to be synonyms and mean the same thing, but they must be used in strictly defined cases.

Today we will talk about the do-make pair. These words are studied already in the first classes in English, but there are so many nuances in them that students with the Advanced level make mistakes. Go.

What to do with do and make

The difficulty is that both words “do” and “make” are translated into Russian as “to do”. But at the same time, they have a large number of additional meanings and grammatical constructions in which they are used.

And like the icing on the cake – in English in general there is a phrase “to make do with something”, which translates as “be content with something” and is not connected with the meaning “to do” at all.

But if you figure it out, then everything becomes not so complicated. They only at first glance seem to be interchangeable.

The main difference between do and make is that:

  • sentence with do emphasize the process of action

  • and sentences with make – on the result.

“Do” as the main verb in most cases indicates action. Do the best (try), do the dishes (wash dishes), do your homework (do your homework). In phrases like “do the shopping,” the verb draws attention to the process – “to shop”.

“Make” allows you to pay attention not to the process itself, but to its result. Make a mistake (make a mistake), make money (make money). That is, the emphasis is not on how exactly the person made the mistake, but on the very fact that it was made.

But it is far from always possible to easily determine where exactly the emphasis should be placed – on the process or the result. Therefore, let’s remember the special cases where you need to use do and make.

And if it is more convenient for you to perceive material in video format, then watch our video “DO or MAKE – what’s the difference? English for Beginners “.

Please, do

Let’s go through all the features of using the word do.

1. As an auxiliary word in simple negative forms.

A simple rule without too much difficulty.

I don’t speak French. – I do not speak French.

I don’t play football. – I do not play football.

Let’s remember the incomparable Gwen Stefani and her song “Don’t speak”.

2. As an anaphoric form of the verb.

Do not be alarmed, in practice it sounds much easier than it is called. In English, this is one simple word “pro-verb”. And in this case, it means a word that in a sentence avoids the repetition of the main verb

I got better marks in the exam than my brother did. – I got better marks on the exam than my brother.

A good way to avoid tautology and make speech more enjoyable. It is generally possible to omit the auxiliary verb from the point of view of grammar, but it is not worth it – native speakers prefer constructions with two grammatical bases.

3. As an additional verb that reinforces the main one.

When students with a Pre-Intermediate or Intermediate level see this feature for the first time, it causes them a stupor. Because why are two verbs next to each other?

Jane, I do like your new dress. Where did you get it? “Jane, I really like your new dress. Where did you get it?

In this context, the word “do” can be translated as “really” – you can’t go wrong.

And since the examples are musical, let us recall Trish Toledo, who sings “I do love you” in the song of the same name.

4. As an additional imperative verb.

If a simple order is not enough, then the imperative tone of the sentence can be further strengthened.

– Your music is too loud. Do turn it off! – Your music is too loud. Let’s turn it off!

It’s just that “Turn it off” may not convey how much a person wants the music to be turned off – it still depends on intonation. And “Do turn it off” immediately with the help of grammar reads out what he really longs for and suffers.


The word make is easier. Anyway, it has only two features of use. And one big bastard, but about it a little later.

1. The lexical use of a word when it is the main verb.

Except for the fact that besides “make” the verb “make” has about 50 other meanings, then everything is quite simple.

This pie is so delicious. Have you made it by yourself? – This cake is so delicious. Did you make it yourself?

The “do” confusion happens just here. And the memo about “process-result” really helps to figure it out.


Do – process matters

Make – the result is important

“Make” can also be a noun, but not often. And he also has enough meanings: “brand”, “model”, “sample”, “design”, “type”.

I need you to get the make and serial number of that monitor. – I need the brand and serial numbers of the monitors.

2. As a casual verb.

Here, too, everything is simpler than it sounds: it is an additional verb that can be translated as “to force” or “to cause.”

– I made him tell all about his hobbies. – I made him tell everything about his hobby.

That is, “made” here appears as the cause of some action, and not the action itself. And although translating it as “to force” is not entirely correct in terms of vocabulary, in 95% of cases this translation is the best.

Here’s how in the track Skrillex – Make It Bun Dem. If anything, this is a revised “make it burn them” – “let it burn them.”

And one more case – the same vile and infamous. There are a lot of phrasal verbs with the word “make”. Moreover, in different situations, the same phrasal verb can have completely different meanings.

For example, make out. It has four main meanings.

First: see, understand, understand.

I was able to reconstruct this photo enough to make out some black van. “I was able to reconstruct this photo enough to make out some kind of black van on it.

Second: cope

I’m sure you can make out with this test. “I’m sure you can handle this test.

Third: pretend, pretend, show

You’re not so calm and collected as you’re trying to make out… – You are not as quiet and calm as you want to appear.

Fourth: kiss, cuddle, make love

I watched you both make out… “I saw you two kissing.

Only one phrasal verb has four radically different meanings. And there are more than 15 of them with the word “make”.

The worst thing: guessing what a particular verb means is almost impossible. Even the context does not help in many cases – only the general meaning can be guessed, but not the meaning. And that is not always the case.

What does the verb “make the cut” mean? Most will translate literally and think that this is “making the cut.” But in reality it is “to be selected” For example, a sports team. It is almost impossible to guess what this means with the help of logic.

Do and make are just one word pair that confuses students learning English as a second. And there are still very, very many of them, even without taking into account phrasal verbs. If you want to deal with all of them simply and with pleasure, register for a free trial lesson with a teacher.

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