Submitted by therambler  •  October 8, 2010

Rules for “do” or “make” followed by a noun

Any regular rule applicable for those words “make” and “do” while using with some nouns?

  • make war
  • do the homework
  • make a new plan
  • doing my own business

Any rule ladies and gentlemen, or just memorize every case one by one?

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Not a rule so much as understanding the meanings of the verbs "to make" and "to do," which are not at all synonymous.

The former means to create, while the latter means to perform or accomplish. If we substitute those words in your examples, we have:

create war
perform homework
create a plan
perform my business

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How about "make do"?

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True that in English 'make' and 'do' aren't really synonyms, though it's interesting to note that this doesn't apply to French and Spanish (and probably the rest of the Romance languages).

faire de la guerre = make war
faire des devoirs = do homework

Perhaps it's worth investigating how English came to have this distinction?

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Thank you Steve,

Your explanation is pretty satisfactory to apply on new cases.

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