Stop doing mistakes


How does that sound to you? Proficient users of English will spot the error, but for many non-native speakers, this sentence might not sound strange at all. Thankfully, Kielikoutsi is here to help and maybe this blog will help you stop making some common mistakes!

As you know, Finnish uses the same verb (tehdä) to mean both make and do, so it’s no wonder it’s confusing to know which one to use in English. So how do you know?

In English, the verb make naturally goes with some words and the verb do goes with others. There are some rules of thumb for picking the correct verb but, in most cases, you will just have to learn which one is correct. The simple rule for translating tehdä is to use do when the activity is about completing something or performing a task, or for any non-specific activities, such as do homework, do a good job or do nothing. Do is also used to replace another verb, in phrases like “do the dishes” (wash the dishes) and “do your makeup” (apply your makeup). Make is used when constructing or creating something, or producing a reaction, such as make a cake, make a decision or make you happy.

I’ve noticed that for Finns it’s easy enough to learn many idiomatic that are not always literally about making or doing. Nearly everyone knows that you make friends, make your mind up, do business and even make love, but many struggle where the Finnish idiomatic expression uses the verb tehdä.

Even though do is one of the most common words in the English language, it is not used as frequently in idiomatic expressions as make. The bad news is there are lots of expressions that use do and make and they don’t always agree with the rules of thumb given above. The good news is here’s a list of the ones I most often hear Finns struggle with:

  • Make a change: “I made some big changes to my diet this year.”
  • Make a mistake: “I sometimes make mistakes with English idioms.”
  • Make a choice: “It’s important to know the basic rules and make a choice based on that.”
  • Make plans: “I made plans to learn new English idiomatic expressions today!”
  • Make inquiries: “I made some inquiries regarding the English lessons.”
  • Do damage: “I did some damage to the car I hit.”

 So there you are. Hope this will make do for now. Yes, that’s an expression as well. How would you translate that?