DO or MAKE ? Common English Collocations

DO or MAKE ? Common English Collocations

  • DO is used for actions, obligations, and repetitive tasks
  • MAKE is used for creating or producing something, and for actions you choose to do
  • DO generally refers to the action itself, and MAKE usually refers to the result
    For example:
    If you “make breakfast,” the result is an omelet!
    If you “make a suggestion”, you have created a recommendation.

Common English Collocations with DO


  • do the housework
    After I got home from the shop, I was too tired to do the housework.
  • do the laundry
    I really need to do the laundry – I don’t have any clean clothes left!
  • do the dishes
    I’ll make dinner if you do the dishes afterwards.
    (you can also say “wash the dishes”)
  • do the shopping
    I went to visit Anne, did some shopping, and mailed a package at the post office.

EXCEPTION: make the bed = putting blankets, sheets, and pillows in the correct place so that the bed looks nice and not messy


  • do work
    I can’t go out tonight – I have to do some work on an extra project.
  • do homework
    You can’t watch any TV until you’ve done your homework.
  • do business
    We do business with clients in ten countries.
  • do a good/great/terrible job
    Joanne did a good job organizing the party.
    (in this expression, “job” doesn’t necessarily refer to work. It simply means the person did something well)
  • do a report
    I’m doing a report on the history of Polish foreign policy.
    (you can also say “writing a report”)
  • do a course
    We’re doing a course at the local university.
    (you can also say “taking a course”)


  • do exercise
    I do at least 20 minutes of exercise every day.
  • do your hair (= style your hair)
    I’ll be ready to go in 10 minutes – I just need to do my hair.
  • do your nails (= paint your nails)
    Can you open this box for me? I just did my nails and they’re still wet.


  • do anything / something / everything / nothing
    Are you doing anything special for your husband birthday?
    You can’t do everything by yourself – let me help you.
  • do well
    I think I did pretty well in the interview.
  • do badly
    Everyone did badly on the test – the highest grade was 58.
  • do good
    He has done a lot of good in the community.
  • do the right thing
    When I found someone’s wallet on the sidewalk, I turned it in to the police because I wanted to do the right thing.
  • do your best
    Don’t worry about getting everything perfect – just do your best. 

Common English Collocations with MAKE


  • make breakfast/lunch/dinner
    I’m making lunch – it’ll be ready in about 15 minutes.
  • make a sandwich
    Could you make me a chicken sandwich?
  • make a salad
    I made a salad for the family picnic last week.
  • make a cup of tea
    Would you like me to make you a cup of tea?
  • make a reservation
    I’ve made a reservation for 8:00 at our favorite restaurant.


  • make money
    I enjoy my job, but I don’t make very much money.
  • make a profit
    The new company made a profit within its first month.
  • make a fortune
    She made a fortune after her book hit #1 on the bestseller list.
  • make $_______
    I made $300 selling my old books on the internet.


  • make friends
    It’s hard to make friends when you move to a big city.
  • make love (= have sex)
    The newlyweds made love on the beach during their honeymoon.
  • make a pass at (= flirt with someone)
    My best friend’s brother made a pass at me – he asked if I was single and tried to get my phone number.
  • make fun of someone (= tease / mock someone)
    The other kids made fun of John when he got glasses, calling him “four eyes.”
  • make up (= resolve a problem in a relationship)
    Mark and Joanna made up after the big fight they had last day.


  • make a phone call
    Please excuse me – I need to make a phone call.
  • make a joke
    John made a joke, but it wasn’t very funny and no one laughed.
  • make a point
    Hanna made some good points during the meeting; I think we should consider her ideas.
  • make a bet
    I made a bet with Robert to see who could do more push-ups.
  • make a complaint
    We made a complaint with our internet provider about their terrible service, but we still haven’t heard back from them.
  • make a confession
    I need to make a confession: I was the one who ate the last piece of cake.
  • make a speech
    The company president made a speech about ethics in the workplace.
  • make a suggestion
    Can I make a suggestion? I think you should cut your hair shorter – it’d look great on you!
  • make a prediction
    It’s difficult to make any predictions about the future of the economy.
  • make an excuse
    When I asked her if she’d finished the work, she started making excuses about how she was too busy.
  • make a promise
    I made a promise to help him whenever he needs it.
    (you can also say, “I promised to help him whenever he needs it.”)
  • make a fuss (= demonstrate annoyance)
    Stop making a fuss – he’s only late a couple minutes. I’m sure he’ll be here soon.
  • make an observation
    I’d like to make an observation about our business plan – it’s not set in stone, so we can be flexible.
  • make a comment
    The teacher made a few critical comments on my essay.

EXCEPTION: Don’t say “make a question.” The correct phrase is “ask a question.”



  • make plans
    We’re making plans to travel to New York next year.
  • make a decision/choice
    I’ve made my decision – I’m going to go to Poznań University, not  Wrocław University.
  • make a mistake
    You made a few mistakes in your calculations – the correct total is $234, not $224.
  • make progress
    My students are making good progress. Their spoken English is improving a lot.
  • make an attempt / effort (= try)
    I’m making an effort to stop smoking this year.
  • make up your mind (= decide)
    Should I buy a desktop or a laptop computer? I can’t make up my mind.
  • make a discovery
    Scientists have made an important discovery in the area of genetics.
  • make a list
    I’m making a list of everything we need for the wedding: invitations, decorations, a cake, a band, the dress…
  • make sure (= confirm)
    Can you make sure we have enough copies of the report for everybody at the meeting?
  • make a difference
    Getting eight hours of sleep makes a big difference in my day. I have more energy!
  • make an exception
    Normally the teacher doesn’t accept late homework, but he made an exception for me because my backpack was stolen with my homework inside it.

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