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The difference between "做" and "作"

Hi @YuQinCai, @Constance_Fang @Fiona and the ChinesePod team, my question is this:

Are the following sentences correct?


Any idea what is the difference between 做 and 作?I’ve seen them many times but cannot figure out when I need to use “做” and “作”.

Hi Jeremy,

Let’s take a look at their meanings before comparing them.

  • 做 Verb.
    (1) to make: 做衣服 [zuò yīfu] make clothing
    (2) to do: 做事 [zuòshì] do things
    (3) to celebrate: 做生日 [zuò shēngrì] celebrate the birthday
    (4) to be; to become: 做官 [zuò guān] become an official
    (5) to pretend: 做鬼脸 [zuò guǐliǎn] make faces

  • 作 Noun.
    (1) business: 工作 [gōngzuò] work
    (2) artwork (poem, article, painting, etc.): 著作 [zhù zuò] book

  • 作 Verb.
    (1) to rise: 振作 [zhènzuò] cheer up
    (2) to bring up: 天作之合 [tiānzuòzhīhé] a match made in heaven
    (3) to compose: 作画 [zuòhuà] paint
    (4) to proceed: 作简报 [zuòjiǎnbào] do a presentation
    (5) as: 作为 [zuòwéi] as
    (6) to pretend: 装模作样 [zhuāng mú zuò yàng] attitudinize
    (7) to be; to become (=做): 作官 [zuò guān] become an official
    (8) to make (=做): 为他人作嫁衣 [wèi tārén zuò jià yī]

As you can see, when it comes to the meaning “to do; to proceed”, “to be” or “to make”, 做 and 作 are interchangeable. Now let’s see the difference between them.

  • Difference in Meanings
    做:It’s used with concrete nouns such as work or things. For example, 做账 [zuò zhàng] to make financial records of a business
    作:It’s used with abstract nouns. For example, 作安排 [zuò ānpái] make arrangements

  • Difference in Usages
    做:It’s mostly used in colloquial words. For example, 做梦 [zuòmèng] to dream
    作:It’s mostly used in written language. For example, 作別 [zuò bié] farewell

  • Difference in Actions
    做:The actions with 做 are more concrete. For example, 做菜 [zuò cài] to cook
    作:The actions with 作 are more abstract. For example, 作弊 [zuòbì] to cheat

If there’s still any question, feel free to ask. We’ll reply to you as soon as possible.


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Thanks Betty for the clarification! Wish you a happy new year! :slight_smile:

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Mostly I mix them together, and in most cases I use the first one a lot, even dont know if it is correct.
Thanks for the detailed answer, let me learned a lot.

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