How to Avoid Problems with “to do” and “to make”

Many students worry about whether they should use “to do” or “to make” when they are speaking.  The problems comes from the fact that both verbs are often (but not always) translated into Catalan and Spanish as fer or hacer.  It is further complicated by the fact that expressions with these two verbs are very common in both languages.  This type of expression is also quite common in English, but it is not incorrect to say, «I would like to reserve a room», or «I would like to book a room» instead of saying, «I would like to make a reservation».  The same is true of many more cases.

Many text books make it sound like the only way to say the sentence is «I would like to make a reservation», but this is ridiculous and completely false.  All three ways are equally correct and mean exactly the same thing.  If you can’t remember if an expression is translated with “to do” or “to make,” use the verbs that corresponds difectly.

For example;

  • To make a decision…to decide
  • To make a suggestion…to suggest
  • To make a friend…to meet a new friend
  • To make dinner…to cook dinner
  • To make a date…to arrange to meet
  • To make a call…to call / to phone
  • To make a plan…to plan
  • To make clear…to explain
  • To do the dishes…to wash the dishes
  • To do the housework…to clean the house
  • To do my homework…to finish my homework
  • To do exercise…to exercise
  • To do the exercises…to finish the exercises
  • To do better…to improve
  • To do the shopping…to buy food

This way you can eliminate many of the examples and concentrate on the ones that cannot be translated with the verb directly.

For example;

  • To make the bed / Fer el llit / Hacer la cama
  • To do business / Fer negocis / Hacer negocios
  • To make a sound / Fer un soroll / Hacer un sonido
  • To do your best / Fer el millor que puguis / Hacer lo mejor posible
  • To make a difference / Contribuir positivament / Contribuir positivamente
  • To do well or to do badly / Fer bé o fer mal / Hacer bien o hacer mal
  • To make fun of / Burlar-se de / Reirse de

There are also some forms that are translated with to take.

For example;

  • To take a trip
  • To take an exam
  • To take a break

In conclusion, studying and learning to speak a foreign language is difficult enought.  Student should look for ways to make it easier (to cause it to be less difficult).

Written by Mike Dean Alger for Aston School

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