Make/Do/Take

What’s the difference between make, do and take?

The verbs make, do and take often cause problems for learners of English. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules to learn the difference, so the best way to learn these verbs is in context with their related nouns, or as set phrases. Read on to learn when to use make, do and take in English, then put your knowledge to the test in the free exercises.

Example

What is Mrs Fisher doing? She is making a chocolate cake. Her husband is doing something in the garden.

The hand mixer makes so much noise that Larry can’t do his homework.

If he doesn’t study, he won’t make progress. Tomorrow his class is taking an exam.

When the cake is finished, Mrs Fisher takes a photo of it because it looks so delicious. Then she does the washing up.

Make

  • produce or create something, usually with your hands
Example:
Mrs Fisher is making a cake.
  • cause something to happen through your actions
Example:
The hand mixer makes a lot of noise.
  • here is a list of some of the most common set phrases with make:
make +
noun
make an appointment/an arrangement/a plan
make the bed
make a choice/a decision
make a drink (tea/coffee/cocktails etc.)
make friends
make an impression
make a joke
make a meal (breakfast/lasagne/a sandwich etc.)
make a mistake
make money/a fortune
make a phone call
make progress
make time for somebody/something

Do

  • use do with tasks and activities that are undefined
Example:
What is Mrs Fisher doing?
  • use do with something, anything and nothing
Example:
Mr Fisher is doing something in the garden.
  • use do with activities and tasks
Examples:
She sends her son upstairs to do his homework.
Larry can’t have any cake until he does the washing up.
  • use do in connection with jobs and professions
Example:
What does Mrs Fisher do? = What is Mrs Fisher’s job?
  • Here is a list of thing you can do:
do +
tasks at home
do the cleaning
do the dishes
do the ironing
do the washing
do +
exercise/sports
do aerobics
do dance classes
do martial arts
do +
noun/adverb
do business
do a course
do your hair/nails/make-up
do your homework
do paperwork
do research
do well/badly

Take

  • use take with particular nouns
Example:
Mrs Fisher takes a photo of the cake.
Tomorrow, Larry’s class is taking an exam.
  • use take with different modes of public transport
Example:
We are taking the train to Switzerland next week.
Jamie takes the bus to work every morning.
  • here is a list of some things that you can take in English:
take +
noun
take a break/rest
take an exam/a test
take a course/class
take a nap
take notes
take a phone call
take a photo/picture
take a trip

For more information about the verb take, see our page on take vs. bring.