To make or to do? by Samuel van den Nieuwenhof - Profesor de inglés / Insegnante di inglese

To make or to do?

To make or to do? In my experience as an English teacher, this is the most difficult thing for students to get right, even at advanced levels. There is something about the way we use these two verbs in English that doesn’t always make sense for students, and the fact that there isn’t a clear translation in Spanish or Italian doesn’t help either!

What do I mean by this? In Spanish, we can get close with the verb ‘hacer’, and in Italian there is ‘fare’. But how do you say it in English? To make, or to do?

How do we know which one to use?

There are two ways we can think about this problem: the easy way, and the hard way. The hard way is what many propose when you Google this very question - study the different instances when we use ‘make’ or ‘do’, and apply the correct one when speaking or writing. For example, this site suggests that we use ‘do’ for actions, obligations and repetitive tasks, while we use ‘make’ when we create things, or do actions voluntarily.

Got it? Let’s try it out.

Your teacher gives you homework. Of course, you have to:

  1. Make your homework.

  2. Do your homework.

Well, homework is an obligation (although I argue you should do it voluntarily), so you’re correct if you said you have to ‘do your homework’.

Let’s think about another scenario. Your mother is coming to visit, and your room is a mess. You need to make it look clean, so you:

  1. Make your bed.

  2. Do your bed.

The answer here is ‘make’, and most speakers and learners would cringe at the sound of ‘do your bed’. But wait, isn’t this an action, and even an obligation? We’ve run into one of the many exceptions to the rule.

So not only do we need to consider the rules, we also need to know when the rules don’t apply (for various reasons.

So is there an easier way? Of course there is!

The easy way to know the difference between make and do: practice, practice, practice.

If you’re exposing yourself to lots of English, you’ll naturally hear when to use one verb or another. Likewise, an astute teacher will correct your mistakes when you make them. With make or do there is no golden rule, but with time you’ll automatically use the right one.

So if you’re starting out, and you’re making a lot of mistakes with these verbs: don’t panic. Everyone does, and it’s something that takes a while to get over. But don’t think you need to put your head down and learn a thousand rules. Just keep speaking and listening, and you’ll go a long way.

Don't struggle by yourself!

Of course a teacher helps a lot: try a free trial class with me today, and just how much you can improve together!

07 April 2021

Learn English with Music- You & I COVER

Do you want to understand song lyrics? Learn English with music with me. I give you a set of questions at the beginning so pay close attention to the lyrics and see if your answers are correct at the end of the video.
Johana Konecna

07 April 2021

Las 5 mejores academias de inglés en Barcelona

Te detallamos las 5 mejores academias de inglés en Barcelona para que aciertes en tu elección para aprender inglés. Seguro que habrás visitado muchas academias de inglés en Barcelona, pero aún no has decido en cual realmente puedes confiar para aprender inglés.
Ana Elena Kramarenko

04 April 2021

A different view of Spanish politics

A look at Spanish politics from an anglophone perspective may be more objective than listening to one side of a divided country.

30 March 2021

The Balance In Teaching Children

Experience and tips in teaching pre-school children. When they have dynamic routine classes they’ll surprise us all by how much they can learn even being so young.
Vaiva V. Markes

25 March 2021

4 Ways to Practice English Outside of Class... That aren't Netflix

Tired of your teacher telling you to watch a movie or show on Netflix to practice your English? Here are 4 different, quick, and easy ways to practice.
Blanca Sanchez Rocha Baldasano

24 March 2021

How a huge lifestyle change exposed me to the world of teaching

Bulgaria! Who would want to live there? And where the heck is it anyway? I would soon to find out and was ready to embrace the lifestyle changes that led me to becoming a teacher.
Bev Sisson

24 March 2021

Teaching English to children is...... a mixed bag of emotions!

I find it very gratifying when a young student 'gets it' . A child who has been so frustrated but put their heart and soul into practicing their Achilles’ heel. But, why do some just give up, they do not go the extra mile, it doesn’t matter. Or does it?
Bev Sisson

22 March 2021

Aprende phrasal verbs con canciones

Aprender inglés es un rollo. Las cosas como son. Estudiar gramática, memorizar tiempos verbales, realizar ejercicios repetitivos… y los famosos phrasal verbs. Por suerte hay maneras de hacer que sea divertido y entretenido ¡estudiando con canciones! En esta entrada de blog no solo hay 10 canciones con las que estudiar sino también dos ejercicios para ponerte a prueba ¿has cantado lo suficiente?
Georgina Malagarriga
1ª Clase Gratis