Monday, February 7, 2011

Collocations: make and do

Do and make are two verbs with similar meanings, and sometimes it's difficult to choose one or the other.
Make often expresses the idea of creation:
Let's make a cake!
Do is used to talk about an activity without saying exactly what it is.
What are you doing?
Do is always used with something, anything, everything, nothing...
Come on, boys, do something!

In other cases there are no clear rules. We have to learn the different collocations.

A collocation is a combination of two or more words that happens very often in a language. These words are generally used together. For example, in English you can say: “I like strong tea”, where “strong tea” is a collocation, because both words tend to appear together. It's not usual to see a synonym for “strong” instead of this word: “powerful tea” cannot be said. So, language learners should try to use the correct collocations if they want to sound natural when speaking a foreign language.
That's what happens with do and make: we have to learn the collocations in which they appear. These are the most important:

one's duty the housework sure an offer
good harm arrangements a suggestion
business one's best a mistake a phone call
a favour research an appointment sense
the shopping the washing-up a promise the most of...
the dishes the homework love war

Have a look at this presentation and do the exercises at the end of it:

 Now you can do these exercises to see how much you have learnt:


  1. Thank you. Your information was vey useful.

    1. I'm so glad to hear that! Thanks for visiting, Susana!


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