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Vocabulary: Make or Do?

When to use the verbs 'make' and 'do'

Vocabulary: Make or Do?

These exercises are to help you with a question students often face: should I say make or do?  Do I make my homework, or do my homework?  The confusion often comes from the fact that in many European languages the same word is used for both make and do.

So how can you decide?  Well, you’ve probably noticed that we usually make meals and drinks, but do the housework (except for ‘make the bed’).  But, as with so many aspects of English, there are no definite rules; you just have to learn what sounds right. And how can you do that?  Well, by reading, listening to music, watching TV series & films in English …

The first exercise is a mini-test: Make or Do?

Vocabulary Mini-test: Make or Do?

‘Make’ & ‘do’ are two verbs that often cause confusion.  Try this mini-test to practise collocation.

1 / 12

Give me your dirty clothes – I’m going to _____ the laundry now.

2 / 12

I’m thisty – could you _____ me a cold drink?

3 / 12

This floor is very dusty – I must _____ the hoovering today!

4 / 12

This test is hard, but just _____ your best!

5 / 12

Try not to ______ any mistakes.

6 / 12

Why don't you ______ your hair differently for a change?

7 / 12

You should ______ your homework before you go out.

8 / 12

Why don't you _____ some physical exercise?

9 / 12

You could _____ some tea.

10 / 12

Try to _____ a decision.

11 / 12

Why don't you _____ some tidying?

12 / 12

You should _____ an appointment with the dentist.

Your score is


Now let’s prepare for the next worksheet by reading the following exercise.

Saul is starting work at a large hotel. Read his conversation with his new boss, and find three things that are not Saul’s responsibility.

Boss: Welcome to the Strand Hotel. Before you start work, I’d like to go over your daily responsibilities with you. You start at seven o’clock every morning, and your first job is to make the morning tea. Serve it in the dining room at breakfast. Then you must take all the cups out to the kitchen, but you don’t have to do the washing up.

Saul: Do I have to make the breakfast?

Boss: No, the chef does that. While the guests are having breakfast, you must do the general cleaning of the bedrooms, but you don’t have to do the laundry.

Saul: Should I do the hoovering?

Boss: Yes, and you must also make the beds. After that you’re free until 12.30, when you must help the chef to make the lunch. Then make the coffee, collect the cups and that’s all for the day. I hope you’ll be happy here – just do your best, and I’m sure things will go well.

Now read the conversation again. Notice that we say ‘make the tea’, but ‘do the washing up’.  Find four more examples with make and do ...

That’s right!  We use make for: breakfast, the bed, lunch & coffee.  But we use do for: the cleaning, the laundry, the hoovering, and also for the expression ‘do your best’.  And Saul doesn’t have to do the washing up, make the breakfast or do the laundry.

Here’s an interactive worksheet for you to practise some more.

When you finish, click on the blue ‘Finish’ button.  Then click ‘Check my answers’ for instant feedback.  If you make any mistakes, try again until you get it right!  You can make the document full size by clicking on the arrows to the left of the blue ‘Finish’ button.

Make or Do?, an interactive worksheet by chrisseville

Next steps

To learn more about the format and question-types in the Aptis Test, remember to try Aptis Vocabulary Practice Test 1.

And for more practice on specific vocabulary points, why not try Vocabulary: Adjective endings ‘ed’ or ‘ing’?

And if you want more vocabulary practice, we recommend the excellent  ‘English in Use’ series published by Cambridge.

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