Make or Do - common errors - collocations - AMEnglish - Business English

If you have doubts regarding when to use make or do, this is the perfect post for you!

Trying to figure out whether to use MAKE or DO can often be difficult for Spanish students, given that in Spanish there’s just one verb to deal with it all: hacer.

Although there are a couple of basic rules, which we’ll talk about a little bit further down the post, you must understand that these are very general rules, that sometimes don’t fully make sense to non-English speakers and that in many cases are not applied.

This means that logic may sometimes fail and that it will be necessary for you to study a lot of these expressions (in context, to better commit them to memory) by doing exercises, playing games etc., and of course, by using them.


1. We use MAKE when we are ‘producing’ something (building, creating, cooking, etc.).

There usually is a final product. For example, if you ‘make pasta’ you will have cooked pasta at the end of your action, or if you ‘make tea’, you will have a cup of tea at the end of your action.

As you may have guessed, we use make for anything that has to do with preparing food or drinks.

MAKE is also used to speak about reactions:

  • This song always makes me smile – Esta canción siempre me hace sonreir.
  •  The smell of onion made my eyes water – El olor a cebolla hizo que se me saltaran las lágrimas. 
  • We’ll stay in, if that’ll make you happy – Nos quedaremos en casa, si eso te hace feliz.

2. We use DO when we are generically referring to ‘performing an action, a job or a task’, without producing a physical object (realizar una acción, hacer algo).

For example, if we want to ask ¿Qué estás haciendo? (in general) we say What are you doing?

We will use DO whenever we are not being specific, with words such as: nothing, something, anything, things etc.:

  • I’m not going to do anything today – No voy a hacer nada hoy. 
  • Stop staring at them and do something! (they are fighting) – ¡Para de mirarlos fijamente y haz algo! 
  • I’ve got lots of things to do today – Tengo que hacer muchas cosas hoy.

Most household chores use do: do the ironing (planchar), do the laundry (hacer la colada), do the washing up (lavar los platos), etc.

At this point, many students will (totally understandably) ask: ‘but, what are you producing if you make a mistake? or ‘but, if we make a choice or decision, there’s no final product, right?’.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, make and do have special uses, and, like it or not, you’ll have to learn which expressions use DO and which MAKE.

To make it a bit easier for you to do just that, learn collocations with DO and MAKE, I’ve created the following lists, which I hope you’ll find useful.


  • Make a bethacer una apuesta
  • Make a changerealizar un cambio
  • Make a choice / choicestomar una elección
  • Make a commenthacer un comentario
  • Make a confessionhacer una confesión
  • Make a connectionrealizar una conexión
  • Make a contribution tohacer una contribución a
  • Make a decisionTomar una decisión (VERY COMMON ERROR: take a decision)
  • Make a demand hacer una demanda
  • Make a differencemarcar la diferencia
  • Make a discovery hacer un descubrimiento
  • Make a fool of yourselfquedar como un tonto
  • Make a fortuneganar una fortuna
  • Make a fuss armar un escándalo
  • Make a livingganarse la vida
  • Make a mess causar desorden
  • Make a mistakecometer un error
  • Make a noise/noisehacer ruido
  • Make a note anotar, tomar nota
  • Make a phone callhacer una llamada de teléfono
  • Make a prediction realizar una predicción
  • Make a profithacer ganancia
  • Make a promisehacer una promesa
  • Make a reservation hacer una reserva
  • Make a scenemontar un numerito
  • Make a speechdar un discurso
  • Make a statementhacer una declaración
  • Make a suggestionhacer una sugerencia
  • Make an announcementdar un anuncio
  • Make an appointment concertar una cita
  • Make an attempt hacer un intento
  • Make an efforthacer un esfuerzo
  • Make an error cometer un error
  • Make an escapeescaparse
  • Make an exceptionhacer una excepción
  • Make an excuse/excusesdar excusas
  • Make an improvementhacer una mejora
  • Make an observation hacer una observación
  • Make arrangements hacer preparativos
  • Make breakfast/lunch/dinnerhacer el desayuno/comida/cena
  • Make cleardejar claro
  • Make facesponer caras
  • Make friendshacer amigos
  • Make fun of someone reírse de alguien
  • Make inquiries formular consultas
  • Make moneyhacer (ganar) dinero
  • Make planshacer planes
  • Make progresshacer progreso
  • Make room hacer sitio
  • Make sensetener sentido
  • Make someone angryenfadar a alguien
  • Make sureasegurarse
  • Make the bedhacer la cama
  • Make trouble causar problemas


  • Do a course hacer un curso
  • Do a crosswordhacer un crucigrama
  • Do a dance hacer un baile, una danza
  • Do a deal hacer un trato
  • Do a drawinghacer un dibujo
  • Do a good jobhacer un buen trabajo
  • Do a job hacer un trabajo
  • Do a paintinghacer un cuadro
  • Do a projectrealizar un proyecto
  • Do a report hacer un informe
  • Do a service ­– realizar un servicio
  • Do an assignmentrealizar un encargo / hacer una tarea (deberes)
  • Do an exam hacer un examen
  • Do an experimenthacer un experimento
  • Do badly hacer mal / tener dificultades
  • Do betterhacerlo mejor
  • Do business hacer negocios
  • Do chores realizar tareas
  • Do damagecausar daños
  • Do exercisehacer ejercicio
  • Do exerciseshacer ejercicios
  • Do good hacer el bien
  • Do harm hacer daño
  • Do homeworkhacer los deberes (estudios)
  • Do researchrealizar una investigación
  • Do some workhacer algo de trabajo
  • Do someone a favourhacerle a alguien un favor
  • Do the honourshacer los honores
  • Do the mathhacer los cálculos
  • Do the maximum/minimumhacer lo máximo/mínimo
  • Do the right thinghacer lo correcto
  • Do well hacerlo bien
  • Do without sth./sb.renunciar a algo o a alguien
  • Do wronghacerlo mal
  • Do your besthacerlo lo mejor posible
  • Do your dutycumplir con tus deberes/obligaciones
  • Do your workhacer tu trabajo

Household chores (housework):

  • Do the cooking cocinar
  • Do the dishes/washing uplavar los platos
  • Do the ironing planchar
  • Do the laundry hacer la colada
  • Do the shoppinghacer la compra (careful! Irse de compras: go shopping)
  • Do the washing lavar la ropa
  • Do housework hacer las tareas de la casa

 Looking after yourself:

  • Do your makeupmaquillarte
  • Do your hair arreglarte el pelo
  • Do your nailshacerte las uñas

I hope you find this post useful. If you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to leave a message further down below. 



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You will find many useful posts for you to learn and advance. 

Check these ones out, for example!

20 Useful Colloquial Expressions in English

Talking about advantages and disadvantages in English

12 Sentences to interrupt politely in English Estamos en Pinterest!

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