The verbs make and do are some of the most common verbs in English. They have similar meanings, so it can be challenging to decide when to use them—especially since they translate to the same word in many languages! 

Here is a simple memory trick to help you remember their main uses:

Illustration with an orange box labeled "When to use make" and a blue box labeled "When to use do". In the "make" box are the uses of MAKE: money, arrangements, keep, eat. In the "do" box are the uses of DO: daily tasks and occupations. There is an image of Duo the owl dressed as a student with a backpack and baseball cap.

In this post:

When to use make in English

The acronym MAKE helps you remember the 4 main uses of the verb make:

Use of make Example phrases
Money speak about earning and spending money make money
make a payment
make purchases
Arrangements arrange plans and choose what to do make a plan
make a decision
make a reservation
make arrangements
make a choice
make an appointment
Keep create objects that you can see and touch make a blanket
make a table
make a sculpture
Eat prepare food and drink make a sandwich
make lunch
make a salad
make a drink

When to use do in English

And the acronym DO includes the uses of do!

Uses of do Example phrases
Daily Tasks participate in common activities, such as chores, household tasks, and hobbies do the dishes
do cleaning
do chores
do your hair/makeup
do yoga
Occupation complete tasks related to work and school do your job
do work
do business
do an essay
do a project

Examples of make and do in English

Here are examples of the most common uses of make and do:

Example Acronym Use
Junior is selling some of his old toys. He wants to make twenty dollars! MAKE money
You’ll make more money if we change jobs. MAKE money
How do they make a living? MAKE money
Someone has to make the final decision. MAKE arrangements
Lucy will make a reservation at a nice hotel. MAKE arrangements
My grandma made sweaters for us to wear! MAKE keep
Oscar made a beautiful piece of art to hang on the wall. MAKE keep
I’m hungry, so I’m going to make some pasta. MAKE eat
Vikram, what are you making for dinner? MAKE eat
I want to do my nails, but I can’t pick a color! DO daily tasks
Lin doesn’t want to do her laundry. DO daily tasks
Zari and Lily are doing their homework. DO occupations
Please do this project before January 12th. DO occupations

Keep making progress in English!

The next time you need to choose between “make” and “do” in English, think about Money, Arrangements, Keep, Eat (MAKE) and Daily tasks, Occupations (DO). This memory trick will help you learn the most important and most frequent uses of these verbs!