History of the English Language




Do you often do mistakes?

Does anybody, in fact, do mistakes? No, the correct term is to make mistakes.


Why??! The original use of do and make seem fairly clear and is still the reason commonly given in course books. Do is to reflect an action taking place, for example do your homework or do somebody a favour, a process if you like. Whereas make reflects the production of something – make a cake, make a mess, make peace not war and so on. The situation is confused by the fact that do is an auxiliary verb as well as a main verb, for example Do you make bread? and What do you do? Searching for the origins of these words do can be found in Greek, Latin, German, and even the Scandinavians used it as a term to mean get/make ready. It is said that the change came from hospitals where do replaced make, for example as in make/do the bed. During the 1990s do also took on a different meaning. People were asking each other if they did blues, did jazz, did football, as a way of saying ‘do you like’ something.

A Possible Solution

In class recently the make and do problem led us to this question: “Would you make friends or do friends?” In a business context we also had make a network or do a network. From these examples it seems easier to use make if you’re not sure as you will be understood more easily even if it is not necessarily 100% correct!

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