Do and Make

Do and Make

One of the biggest challenges for English learners (particularly Brazilians) is deciphering when to use “make” and when to use “do.” This confusion comes from trying to translate your native language word-for-word into English. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work, and this instance is definitely one of the times when it doesn’t work!

Depending on the situation, “fazer” can mean make or do, and sometimes we use make or do in circumstances that Portuguese does not use the verb “fazer” (make the bed = arrumar a cama). The best way to beat this is to familiarize yourself with the patterns and guidelines we will discuss in this article. Ready to become a pro at using “do” and “make”? Let’s go!


The Guidelines

When in doubt, keep in mind that we generally use DO with actions, obligations, and repetitive activities. We use MAKE when talking about things we choose to do and when talking about something that we create or produce. These are not hard rules but can increase your chances of getting it right when in doubt.

Let’s break it down into categories.



  • I always do my hair and makeup before work.
  • I really need to do my eyebrows!


  • It is important to do some form of exercise regularly.
  • Stacy loves to do yoga!


  • I haven’t done any of my chores yet today.
  • We really need to do the groceries soon.
  • My husband helps me do the dishes.
  • I need to do the laundry.
  • Can you please do the ironing?

Exception: You MAKE your bed!


  • It’s time to do your homework.
  • I have a project I need to do before Friday.
  • It was nice doing business with you!
  • We need to do some work this weekend.
  • Sally does hair for a living.


  • Can you please do me a favor?



  • Let’s make a cake!
  • It’s time to make dinner.
  • Can you make pancakes for breakfast?
  • I’m making lasagna for the party tonight.
  • Are you planning to make drinks? 
  • Can you make me a margarita?


  • How do you plan to make money after high school?
  • Most new businesses don’t make a profit for about 2 years. 
  • He made a pretty penny on that deal.

Art (things you construct)

  • Tiffany makes gorgeous paintings.
  • He makes the most amazing ice sculptures.
  • I started making jewelry on the side.
  • Gap makes really comfy clothes.


(Decisions, Commitments, Changes, Mistakes, Deals, etc.) 

  • I’ve had to make some really tough decisions.
  • She has a hard time making commitments.
  • I made some changes to my schedule.
  • He made a mistake on his taxes.
  • Let’s make a deal!
  • We made an agreement. You can’t go back on it now.
  • Kids are notorious for always making messes.


Presentations and Speeches

The best option to use is “give”

I am giving a speech tomorrow.

I am giving a presentation tomorrow.


If you choose to use “do” or “make”, however, these are the guidelines:

You write a speech. – the process of creating it.

You make a speech. – the process of presenting it.


You make a presentation. – the process of creating it and putting it together.

You do a presentation. – the process of presenting it.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re in doubt whether to use “do” or “make” and pay attention to when you notice native speakers use these words. Lastly, don’t beat yourself up if you still get it wrong sometimes. Even if you use the wrong word, you will almost always still be understood!

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