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Question about Verbs // Make or Do


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I don't know if this is only a problem that relates to German Speakers of English but i often don't know if I have to just the verb make or do.can someone help me with the following sentences and maybe tell me if there is a rule about this?

Sentences // make or do //

1 What on earth have you done / made with my computer?

2 It is very annoying to play with Vanessa . She makes / does such a fuss if she doesn't win.

3 The visiting foreign dignitaries were invited to make / do speeches about the ceremonial opening of

parliament.

4 If you agreed, you would be doing / making me a favour.

5 They will hear us and call the police, if you do / make any noise.

6 A short rest would make / do you an awful lot of good.

7 Well, there just isn't any Coca-Cola in the fridge. You will have to make / do without.

8 My mother always makes /does the beds straight after breakfast.

9 He's having a new suit made / done, as he really cares about his outfit.

10 What do you feel like making / doing this weekend? Walking? Eating out?

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Guten Tag Manuel  :tongue:

This is maybe really a problem for Germans or let's say German Speaking people, as I am from Switzerland :=))

I do have problems with this as well, however I improved a lot. Still, I am not a native speaker so I checked one of my numerous english books and it is stating the following:

(The book, by the way, is Recycling Advanced English by Clare West).

Usage of Make and Do:

Make usually conveys the idea of creating or producing something new:

examples for the usage of make:

make a speech, make a fuss, make a noise, make the beds, make a (new) thing, make (someone) ill / well / better, make a mistake and make a change.

Do is used with work, obligations or general activities:

do homework, do housework, do military service, do your duty, do a favour, do (someone) good, do with / without

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Manuel,

I am a teacher on Skype from the UK.

First, to answer your specific sentences:

1 What on earth have you done / made with my computer? COULD BE BOTH... NEED MORE CONTEXT. MORE LIKELY TO BE DONE.

2 It is very annoying to play with Vanessa . She makes / does such a fuss if she doesn't win. MAKE

3 The visiting foreign dignitaries were invited to make / do speeches about the ceremonial opening of

parliament. MAKE

4 If you agreed, you would be doing / making me a favour. DO

5 They will hear us and call the police, if you do / make any noise. MAKE

6 A short rest would make / do you an awful lot of good. DO

7 Well, there just isn't any Coca-Cola in the fridge. You will have to make / do without. DO

8 My mother always makes /does the beds straight after breakfast. MAKE

9 He's having a new suit made / done, as he really cares about his outfit. MAKE

10 What do you feel like making / doing this weekend? Walking? Eating out? DO

Second, I have written an ebook about commoon errors our students make. There is a section about make and do. It is based on Spanish learners of English but, like the French, they too have issues with make and do. I have copied the section on make and do below. Some of this is repeated by Linguaholic.  :smile:

7. Hacer: is it make or do?

Very much a problem as often this can be translated by two verbs: ‘to do/make’. The difference between ‘make and do’ is often the source of much frustration. Basically, ‘to do’ is used to translate ‘hacer’ when an activity is taking place (e.g. I do the painting) whilst ‘make’ should be employed when something physical that can be touched is the end result (e.g. I make a salad). There are exceptions though which you need to be aware of such as ‘I make a phone call’ or ‘I make an effort’.

Examples of incorrect usage include ‘I do a mistake’, ‘I make the housework’, ‘I do a telephone call’ ‘I do a decision’, I do a plan’, ‘I make business’…

So here is a summary and concentrate on the main activities you think you will use:

'Do' is for Activities

Use the verb 'do' to express activities or jobs. These are usually activities that produce no physical object.

do homework

do housework

do the ironing

do the dishes

do a job

There are a number of standard expressions that take the verb 'do'.

do one's best

do good

do harm

do a favour

do business

'Make' is for constructing and creating

Use 'make' to express an activity that creates something that you can touch.

make food

make a cup of tea/coffee

make a mess

make a salad

Important Expressions with 'Make'

make plans

make an exception

make arrangements

make a telephone call

make a decision

make a mistake

make (a) noise

make money

make an excuse

make an effort

make a payment

make a bank transfer

make love

make a toast (an act or instance of raising glasses at a gathering and drinking together in honour of a person or thing).

make a change

make a difference

make an agreement

make cuts

make sense

make a journey

make contact with

make a wish

make a list

make a comment

make oneself understood

make a new year resolution

make a bid

make a deposit

make a complaint

make peace

make a chance

make an opportunity

make a save

make a rule

make a regulation

make a joke

make a statement

make a copy

make eye contact

make a measure

make friendships

make friends

make ties

make a prediction

The whole ebook (free) can be found on my Skype English website (see signature). Remember, variations can occur with US English. All the best.

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  • 3 weeks later...

There other have given good information, I'm going to try to reinforce it by explaining the answers

1 What on earth have you done / made with my computer?

The way this question is asked implied frustration and puzzlement.  The context is likely that someone either can't find the computer, or it's not working properly and they accusing the other of breaking it.  Therefore, DONE is the best answer.  In another context, MADE could be acceptable too.  However, this type of questions indicates "done" to me. 

2 It is very annoying to play with Vanessa. She makes / does such a fuss if she doesn't win.

Makes a fuss is an idiom, a non-literal expression.  Really, you don't create a fuss, but in English we say you do can use 'make'.

3 The visiting foreign dignitaries were invited to make / do speeches about the ceremonial opening of

Parliament.

Speeches are created (then delivered - i.e. spoken) so we use "make" in this context. 

4 If you agreed, you would be doing / making me a favour.

A favour is an action rather a creative process, so "doing" is the correct answer here. 

5 They will hear us and call the police, if you do / make any noise.

Noise is created, so it's "do" in this case. 

6 A short rest would make / do you an awful lot of good.

This is another idiom: "To do someone good" means it will help them in some way.  DO is the answer here.

7 Well, there just isn't any Coca-Cola in the fridge. You will have to make / do without.

Again, it's an idiom, so you can't think of it literally.  It means you need to accept something is not available. 

8 My mother always makes /does the beds straight after breakfast.

You could say "does" here and it would be OK, but most English speakers will use "make the bed", which means to straight the sheets and pull them up to the top (not create an actual bed, as the idiom suggests)

9 He's having a new suit made / done, as he really cares about his outfit.

This is a creative process, a suit needs to be cut, sewn etc.  Thus "made" is the proper answer.

10 What do you feel like making / doing this weekend? Walking? Eating out?

Activities on the weekend are not a creative process, but an action.  therefore use "doing". 

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Hi Sarah RTW,

Thanks for your additions.

With regard to point 5: surely it's 'make noise'? In fact I am absolutely sure 'do noise' is wrong.

Also, with reference to point 8: it would be very strange to hear someone who 'does the bed'. I think using 'to do' here is not OK at all.

Anyway, have a nice day.

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