‘Make Do' or 'Make Due': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on February 3, 2023

When you're in a less-than-ideal situation, do you 'make do' or 'make due?' Excellent question! And one that we'll answer in this article.

In short, the only correct way to say it is 'make do.' Using 'make due' is considered a grammatical error.

What's the Difference Between 'Make Do' or 'Make Due'?

It's rumored that 'make due' was a common expression before the Great Depression era. But even then, it had a different meaning to that of 'make do.' Now, 'make due' is no longer used at all, so it's safe to say that the idiom you're looking for is 'make do.'

What Does 'Make Do' Mean?

'Make do' is an idiom that means that the words together have a different meaning than they do when used separately. It's also a phrasal verb, meaning a verb made with more than one word.

Here are some other well-known phrasal verbs:

To 'make do' means to manage with what you have. It's implied that what you have is not enough and that you would be better able to cope if you had more, but you still make it work.

This idiom can be used in all sorts of contexts, from a living situation to a project at work with limited resources or even the quality of an item.

Later, we'll look at some example sentences so you can see how they are used in context.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Make Do'

How do you pronounce 'make do?' Well, first, you must remember that they are two words. Here's how the International Phonetic Alphabet spells them:

/meɪk du/

And when you say the idiom out loud, it sounds like this:

[ meyk doo ]

When to Use 'Make Do'

We'll now look at some examples of 'make do' used in a sentence. Remember that you can also conjugate it to apply it to different tenses since it's a verb. In the following examples, you'll see it in its various forms.

We didn't have much growing up, but we made do.

She will have to learn to sew or make do with holes in her clothes.

We don't really have the skill set required in this team, but we'll have to make do.

You should never make do with a relationship that doesn't fulfill you.

I forgot my larger bag, so I'll have to make do with this one.

Concluding Thoughts on 'Make Do' or 'Make Due'

That concludes this article on the difference between 'make do' and 'make due.' Hopefully, it's pretty clear now, but I'll summarize just in case:

  • 'Make do' is the correct phrase
  • 'Make due' is incorrect
  • 'Make do' is a phrasal verb meaning to manage with what you've got

If you'd like to learn about more confusing words, head to our blog.

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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