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Collocations: DO or MAKE?

The verbs do and make can be confusing for speakers of Spanish because the meaning is similar, but they usually appear with different words. For example:

  • You can say:

  • But you cannot say:


Do your homework.

*Do an excuse.




The phrase "do your homework" is called a collocation, which is the combination of words formed when two or more words are often used together in a way that sounds correct.

Do the cooking.

Do the shopping.

Do the laundry.

Do a favour.

Do a course.

  • Examples include:

Do business.

Do harm.

Do damage.

Do good.

Do exercise.

Do and make can easily get confused by Spanish speakers of English because these two verbs are rendered by just a simple word in Spanish (e.g. hacer). Therefore, there are some basic rules that must always be considered:

¿Necesitas esta explicación en castellano? 
Collocations (versión en castellano)
  • Use DO when focusing on “the process of acting or performing something”, usually an action, activity or task (Cambridge Online Dictionary, 2021). For example:                


  • Use MAKE when emphasizing “more the product or outcome of an action” (Cambridge Online Dictionary, 2021). This usually refers to the fact of building, producing or creating something new. For example:


Do homework, do a task, do an activity, do a test, do a drawing, do a painting, do an exam, do the cooking, do the cleaning, do the gardening.


Make coffee, make breakfast, make lunch, make dinner, make an offer, make an apology, make a phone call, make a comment, make the bed, make friends.

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