“Make do…not due”

Avoid stepping in major English grammar do-do (or is it due-due???).  Keep reading to learn more.

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The following sentences have all appeared in recent newspaper articles:

  • “While traditional biopsies require billions of tumour cells be carved or drawn out of patients, this new technology can make due with several thousand.”
  • “While La La Land had a record number of fourteen nominations and was expected to be named Best Picture, it had to make due with only six wins.”
  • “Not long after takeoff, the plane’s heater conked out, sending everyone scrambling for extra layers—except the pilot, who wordlessly made due with a thin jacket over his flight suit.”

In all three cases, the verb “make due” or “made due” is incorrect. Rather, the text should properly read “make do” or “made do.

“To make do” is an idiomatic phrase.  It is an abbreviated way of saying that something will “do” or “suit well enough” in circumstances where “do” means “to serve a specific purpose.” And so you might say that you’d prefer to have Ranch dressing on your salad, but you’ll make do with Italian. Or you’d prefer to buy a Mercedes, but you’ll make do with a Ford. Or you’d like to be flying in business class, but you’ll make do with a seat in economy.

In each of these cases you won’t get your first choice, but you’ll be accommodated all the same. And so, you’ll “make do.”

Even though your essay is due tomorrow, and you wish you had more time, you will make do and hand it in on time!

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