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  • Writer's pictureBrittany J. Vincent

Make Due vs. Make Do


Is the proper phrase make due or make do?

This common idiom conundrum has stumped many writers, so let’s break it down.


Make is a verb meaning to begin or to cause to happen. Due is an adjective meaning owed or having reached a date.


The idiom is supposed to signify that you’ll manage or get along with whatever you have at hand. Do is a verb meaning to bring about, perform, or execute. Thus, make do is the proper usage.


Example: We’re almost out of wrapping paper, but we’ll find some way to make do.


Why is make due so often confused with make do? The answer is the latter didn’t become the correct spelling until the early 1900s. Make due, historically, was frequently used until that point. Nowadays, when saying you’ll make due something, it usually features a noun or pronoun (e.g., it) in the phrase to specify the subject is owed or expected to occur.


Example: Let’s make the final report due by the end of the month.


Source: Christine Ammer, The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013), 285.


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Nick Avtges
Nick Avtges
2022年7月27日

I respectfully disagree and believe that "make due" would be the correct usage. In your example, there is presumably some due date that must be made, your best friend's birthday, perhaps, that requires that you have wrapping paper. Since you are almost out, and perhaps your friend's gift is large, there is doubt about whether the task can be accomplished. So, we must find some way to make the due date of your friend's birthday. We must "make due".

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John McLellan
John McLellan
2022年10月11日
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You can respectfully disagree, but you are incorrect. Make do is another way of saying “It’ll have to do“ when settling on something that isn’t ideal. Or if the thing is a good option, you might say, “That’ll do nicely.” So, you “make do” with something when you don‘t have a better option.

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