'Do' vs 'Due': What's the Difference?

By Katie Moore, updated on July 13, 2023

‘Do’ vs ‘Due’: What’s the Difference? Here we have one of the more common words in the English language and an identical-sounding counterpart that has a different meaning. Learning what each of them means is only half the battle, given they sound the same — but don’t worry! This article will help you tell them apart and give you the tools to use both words in your everyday conversations and writing. 

In a hurry? Here’s a quick preview of what’s to come: 

  • ‘Do,’ among many other definitions, is a verb meaning to perform an action. 
  • ‘Due,’ among other definitions, is an adjective describing something that is required or owed. 

What’s the Difference between ‘Do’ vs ‘Due’?

Aside from the obvious difference in spelling between these two homophones, the primary difference lies in the parts of speech they belong to. 

  • ‘Do’ is primarily a verb.
  • ‘Due’ is primarily an adjective. 

Verbs are words used to describe an action, state, or occurrence, and adjectives are words or phrases that name an attribute or description. So, while there are a multitude of definitions for these two words, you can start keeping them separate depending on how they function in a sentence. 

Another trick to keeping ‘Do’ vs ‘Due’ apart is how they relate to asking questions. While the word ‘Due’ can appear in question, the word ‘Do’ is often the driver in a question, otherwise known as a question word. This relates to its part of speech (a verb) and shows that the word ‘Do’ is often, well, the doer. 

Now that we’ve taken a look at more of the difference between ‘Do’ vs ‘Due,’ let’s investigate each word individually to nail down all the circumstances where each word would be appropriate. 

Definition of ‘Do’: What Does it Mean?

‘Do’ has quite a variety of definitions depending on when and how it appears, but each of them is important to learn, given how common the word is.

According to Oxford Languages, ‘Do’ is a verb that means: 

  • Perform an action (or a particular task)
  • Achieve or complete
  • Act or behave in a specified way
  • Be suitable or acceptable

As a verb, it can also mean: 

  • Work on something to complete it or bring it to a required state
  • Make or have available and provide 
  • Solve; work out
  • Cook food to completion or to a specified degree (as in ‘well-done steak’)
  • Perform (a song or role) or imitate (a particular person) in order to entertain people
  • Take (a narcotic drug) or substance
  • Travel a specified distance or at a specified speed
  • Make a particular journey or visit as a tourist 
  • Finish or (have something) be over
  • Make progress or perform in a specified way; get on
  • Have a specified effect on; result in

Other verb uses include: 

  • Used before a verb (except be, can, may, ought, shall, will) in questions and negative statements 
  • Used to refer to a verb already mentioned
  • Used to give emphasis to a positive verb
  • Used in positive commands to give polite encouragement
  • Used with inversion of a subject and verb when an adverbial phrase begins a clause for emphasis 

Now that is certainly a lot to cover and learn, but many of these uses are intuitive and will be covered with examples below.

NOTE! Not all the above cases use the infinitive ‘Do’ — they used either ‘Done’ or ‘Doing’ or ‘Did.’ 

Synonyms of ‘Do’

  • Accomplish
  • Create 
  • Execute
  • Undertake
  • Produce
  • Serve
  • Resolve 
  • Operate
  • Perform
  • Appear

Antonyms of ‘Do’

  • Abstain
  • Abandon
  • Fail
  • Forget
  • Give up
  • Neglect
  • Dissatisfy
  • Put off
  • Refrain

Phrases with ‘Do’

  • Do a job
  • New do
  • Make do
  • Do poorly
  • Do a drug
  • Get it done
  • Doing well

Definition of ‘Due’: What Does it Mean?

According to Oxford Languages, ‘Due’ is an adjective meaning: 

  • Expected at or planned for a certain time
  • Of the proper quality or extent; adequate

As an adjective, it can also mean: 

  • (of payment) required at a certain time
  • (of a person) having reached a point where the thing mentioned is required or owed
  • (of a thing) required or owed as a legal or moral obligation

As a noun, ‘Due’ means: 

  • A person’s right; what is owed to someone
  • An obligatory payment, a fee

And finally, as an adverb, ‘Due’ means: 

  • (with reference to the point of a compass) exactly; directly

Synonyms of ‘Due’

  • Expected 
  • Owed 
  • Outstanding 
  • Scheduled
  • Earned
  • Deserved
  • Payment
  • Claim
  • Compensation

Antonyms of ‘Due’

  • Paid
  • Settled
  • Inadequate
  • Inappropriate

Phrases with ‘Due’

  • Pay dues
  • Due today
  • In due time
  • Where credit is due

Pronunciations: How to Pronounce ‘Do’ vs ‘Due’

While the number of possible definitions may seem daunting, you can rest easy knowing that both words are impossibly easy to pronounce and are pronounced exactly the same. Now this can pose a challenge occasionally when trying to discern which version of the word is being used, but the definitions will help you with that. 

For now, use this phonetic spelling of ‘Do’ and ‘Due’ as a guide:

  • ‘Doo’ (with the ‘o’ or ‘ue’ sounding like “loo”)

How to Use ‘Do’ vs ‘Due’ in a Sentence

One of the best ways to sort through multiple definitions of a word is by putting them into action and connecting them to real-world scenarios. We want to provide you with as much context as possible, so here are some example sentences to solidify ‘Do’ vs ‘Due.’ 

‘Do’ Example Sentences

  • What do you like to do on your days off from work? 
  • It takes my sister way longer to do her hair than me, even though hers is shorter.
  • Going on a walk will do you some good after being inside all day. 
  • The irresponsible babysitter lets the kids do as they please with no consequences. 
  • She said she doesn’t do walk-in appointments on the weekends.
  • The local theater troupe is doingRomeo and Juliet” next season. 

‘Due’ Example Sentences

  • She knew the assignment was due the next day but procrastinated until the last minute.
  • He finally paid her the portion of the group’s prize money that she was due
  • To be part of a fraternity or sorority, you have to pay dues to the national chapter. 
  • According to the map, they were supposed to head due East for the majority of the hike. 

Final Advice on ‘Do’ vs ‘Due’

Navigating homophones can be tricky already, given their identical pronunciations but different meanings. Still, in the case of ‘Do’ vs ‘Due,’ the complications typically come when trying to remember all the definitions. The best advice we can offer here is two things: first, remember the different parts of speech and the context they’re more likely to appear in, and second, trust your gut, especially when it comes to ‘Do’ given that it appears in everyday English so frequently. 

Want a short recap? Here’s a brief version of what we covered: 

  • ‘Do’ is a verb with a variety of meanings, but it primarily refers to the completion or performance of a specified action. 
  • Meanwhile, ‘Due’ is primarily an adjective that refers to something that is owed, indebted, or required. 

Words like ‘Do’ and ‘Due’ can be some of the most frustrating to learn, but if you follow the path we’ve created for you, you’ll be able to master these and other homophones in no time. Be sure to investigate other confusing words to keep expanding and solidifying your vocabulary so you’re set up for linguistic success.

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Written By:
Katie Moore
Katie is a recent graduate of Occidental College where she worked as a writer and editor for the school paper while studying linguistics and journalism. She loves helping others find their voice in writing and making their work the strongest it can be. Katie also loves learning and speaking other languages and wants to help make writing accessible for everyone.

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