Use DO for actions, obligations, and repetitive tasks.
Use MAKE for creating or producing something, and for actions you choose to do.
DO generally refers to the action itself, and MAKE usually refers to the result. For example, if you “make breakfast,” the result is an omelet! If you “make a suggestion,” you have created a recommendation.
Common English Collocations With DO
do the housework After I got home from the office, I was too tired to do the housework.
do the laundry I really need to do the laundry – I don’t have any clean clothes left!
do the dishes I’ll make dinner if you do the dishes afterwards. (you can also say “wash the dishes”)
do the shopping I went to the bank, did some shopping, and mailed a package at the post office.
EXCEPTION: make the bed = putting blankets, sheets, and pillows in the correct place so that the bed looks nice and not messy.
WORK / STUDY
do work I can’t go out this weekend – I have to do some work on an extra project.
do homework You can’t watch any TV until you’ve done your homework.
do business We do business with clients in fifteen countries.
do a good/great/terrible job She did a good job organizing the party. (in this expression, “job” doesn’t necessarily refer to work. It simply means the person did something well)
do a report I’m doing a report on the history of American foreign policy. (you can also say “writing a report”)
do a course We’re doing a course at the local university. (you can also say “taking a course”)
TAKING CARE OF YOUR BODY
do exercise I do at least half an hour of exercise every day.
do your hair (= style your hair) I’ll be ready to go in 15 minutes – I just need to do my hair.
do your nails (= paint your nails) Can you open this envelope for me? I just did my nails and they’re still wet.
GENERAL GOOD OR BAD ACTIONS
do anything / something / everything / nothing Are you doing anything special for your birthday? You can’t do everything by yourself – let me help you.
do well I think I did pretty well in the interview.
do badly Everyone did badly on the test – the highest grade was 68.
do good The non-profit organization has done a lot of good in the community.
do the right thing When I found someone’s wallet on the sidewalk, I turned it in to the police because I wanted to do the right thing.
do your best Don’t worry about getting everything perfect – just do your best.
Common English Collocations With MAKE
make breakfast/lunch/dinner I’m making dinner – it’ll be ready in about ten minutes.
make a sandwich Could you make me a turkey sandwich?
make a salad I made a salad for the family picnic.
make a cup of tea Would you like me to make you a cup of tea?
make a reservation I’ve made a reservation for 7:30 at our favorite restaurant.
make money I enjoy my job, but I don’t make very much money.
make a profit The new company made a profit within its first year.
make a fortune He made a fortune after his book hit #1 on the bestseller list.
make $_______I made $250 selling my old CDs on the internet.
make friends It’s hard to make friends when you move to a big city.
make love (= have sex) The newlyweds made love on the beach during their honeymoon.
make a pass at (= flirt with someone) My best friend’s brother made a pass at me – he asked if I was single and tried to get my phone number.
make fun of someone (= tease / mock someone) The other kids made fun of Jimmy when he got glasses, calling him “four eyes.”
make up (= resolve a problem in a relationship) Karen and Jennifer made up after the big fight they had last week.
make a phone call Please excuse me – I need to make a phone call.
make a joke He made a joke, but it wasn’t very funny and no one laughed.
make a point Dana made some good points during the meeting; I think we should consider her ideas.
make a bet I made a bet with Peter to see who could do more push-ups.
make a complaint We made a complaint with our internet provider about their terrible service, but we still haven’t heard back from them.
make a confession I need to make a confession: I was the one who ate the last piece of cake.
make a speech The company president made a speech about ethics in the workplace.
make a suggestion Can I make a suggestion? I think you should cut your hair shorter – it’d look great on you!
make a prediction It’s difficult to make any predictions about the future of the economy.
make an excuse When I asked him if he’d finished the work, he started making excuses about how he was too busy.
make a promise I made a promise to help her whenever she needs it. (you can also say, “I promised to help her whenever she needs it.”)
make a fuss (= demonstrate annoyance) Stop making a fuss – he’s only late a couple minutes. I’m sure he’ll be here soon.
make an observation I’d like to make an observation about our business plan – it’s not set in stone, so we can be flexible.
make a comment The teacher made a few critical comments on my essay.
EXCEPTION: Don’t say “make a question.” The correct phrase is “ask a question.”
PLANS & PROGRESS
make plans We’re making plans to travel to Australia next year.
make a decision/choice I’ve made my decision – I’m going to go to New York University, not Boston University.
make a mistake You made a few mistakes in your calculations – the correct total is $5430, not $4530.
make progress My students are making good progress. Their spoken English is improving a lot.
make an attempt / effort (= try) I’m making an effort to stop smoking this year.
make up your mind (= decide) Should I buy a desktop or a laptop computer? I can’t make up my mind.
make a discovery Scientists have made an important discovery in the area of genetics.
make a list I’m making a list of everything we need for the wedding: invitations, decorations, a cake, a band, the dress…
make sure (= confirm) Can you make sure we have enough copies of the report for everybody at the meeting?
make a difference Getting eight hours of sleep makes a big difference in my day. I have more energy!
make an exception Normally the teacher doesn’t accept late homework, but she made an exception for me because my backpack was stolen with my homework inside it.