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Make Vs. Do

September 7, 2016

Make it a point to review these common expressions!

Expressions that use the verbs make and do are quite common in English. In many of these expressions, make and do take on a generic action meaning that is tricky to differentiate. English language learners sometimes have great difficulty deciding which verb to use! Luckily, we can divide these expressions into categories such as business, speaking, cooking, work, and housework that makes it much easier to learn which verb to use in which expression.

Make Vs. Do

2016.09.07_make-vs-do-expressions

Make Vs. Do – Grammar & Usage Resources

Practice

We’ve added a practice exercise to our Grammar & Usage Resource on Make Vs. Do. Test your students’ knowledge after reviewing the list of expressions!

Notes

Note #1

There are more expressions with make than with do in English. When in doubt, make is the best choice!

Note #2

What verb should we use for a speech or a presentation? Give is the most common choice, followed by make, but do is possible in some cases (when referring to the topic of the speech).

  • She gave a speech on pollution. (best choice)
  • She made a speech about pollution. (common choice)
  • She did her speech on pollution. (less common choice, informal)

Bonus

Ask your students if they know what the expression make do means! To make do is to get by or use what you have even if it’s not really enough or is barely satisfactory.

  • We didn’t expect to be caught camping in a storm, but we made do with the one tarp we had.
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Comments (2)

Christiane C.(Teacher)

I liked very much this topic. Thank you so much.

I have a question about Note 2

Can I apply the same rule using the word TALK?

Example: She gave a talk.
She made a talk about pollution.
She did her talk on pollution.

Reply to Comment

Tanya Trusler(Author)

Hi Christiane, I'm happy you enjoyed this topic! Great question. The most natural way to use the noun "talk" is with the verb "give." We would never use "make" with this noun, and "do" doesn't sound as natural as "give." Stick with the verb "give" with "a talk." (She gave a talk about pollution.)

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