Advice and teaching suggestions of how to overcome the confusion between 'make' and 'do.'

I live and work in the Dominican Republic, where Spanish is the native language. With almost all of my English students, I encounter a confusion between the use of "to make" and "to do", most probably because in Spanish one verb - hacer- covers both actions.

I have developed lists of common usage for both verbs and plan to practise their use with my students, but I wonder if you can suggest any more creative ways of teaching this aspect of English language. I suspect their are no rules applying to this as I cannot find anything in my (limited) reference books or through running a search on this site.

Linda Stapleton

Spanish speakers are in the same boat as a lot of other learners when it comes to grappling with make and do. Some other languages also have one verb that covers both, and even in languages that have two corresponding verbs, the lines of demarcation between them aren't drawn in exactly the same way as in English. This isn't surprising, since make, do and their equivalents are among the most common verbs in any language, and inevitably accrue a huge number of idiomatic and idiosyncratic uses – including phrasal verbs in some languages.

However, it's helpful if learners realise that the distribution of make and do isn't altogether random – there are some useful and productive generalizations that can be made. Here are some exercises to draw their attention to this fact.