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Do or make?

When we use do and make with noun phrases, do focuses on the process of acting or performing something, make emphasises more the product or outcome of an action:

When I was [action]doing the calculations, I [outcome]made two mistakes.

I [action]did some work for her last summer; I [outcome]made a pond in her garden.

Examples of nouns used with do and make

Nouns which combine with do

activity

damage

favour

job

task

business

drawing

gardening

laundry

test

cleaning

duty

harm

one’s best

washing (up)

cooking

exam(ination)

homework

painting

work

course

exercise

ironing

shopping

I do the shopping on Fridays usually.

Could you do a job for me next week?

Who does the cooking in your house?

Nouns which combine with make

apology

coffee

excuse

love

offer

remark

assumption

comment

friends

lunch

phone call

sound

bed

complaint

guess

mess

plan

soup

breakfast

dinner

law

mistake

profit

speech

cake

effort

list

money

progress

statement

change

error

loss

noise

promise

tea

They made me an interesting offer of a job in Warsaw.

Not many building firms will make a profit this year.

I have to make a phone call.

(“Do or make ?” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press. Need grammar practice? Try English Grammar Today with Workbook.)

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