Are there some difference in meaning in these sentences? Is it possible to use Present Simple to show a regularity of it or this phrase is used only to show a process of making big money?

He is earning a fortune as a managing director.

He is making a fortune as a managing director.

  • Generally speaking, it is polite to wait a few days before you assign an answer as accepted. Lots of people don't read every question as soon as it is posted.
    – puppetsock
    Nov 10, 2020 at 20:52
  • OK. ) On day in the past I didn't accept answer during the week and my question was blocked.
    – Sergei
    Nov 10, 2020 at 21:33

2 Answers 2


"Earning" implies he is getting a fair remuneration for the work he is doing. We use expressions like

He has earned it.

To mean he deserves the reward he has received, because he has worked hard.

Making a fortune doesn't imply that he deserves the money, only that he has received the money. It also doesn't particularly imply that he doesn't deserve the money.

In many cases, you could use either with little difference in meaning.

You can earn a fortune as a lawyer, but the hours are long and the stress levels are high.

Pete made a fortune in the stock market, but lost it all in the Black Friday crash.


The idea of "making money" is distinctly American.

“If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose [...] the fact that they were the people who created the phrase "to make money." No other language or nation had ever used these words before. [...] Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created.” Ayn Rand

To make a fortune means that you do something that creates value. The entrepreneur who starts a business and makes money has done so by creating value. Exactly, though in different degree, as the guy who takes a hot-dog cart to the top of a ski hill and sells his hot-dogs for $5 each.

That is, this is the case in a free market. In such situations, the money you get through trade is based on people's voluntary evaluations of the worth of various goods and services. So if you are doing something that other people believe is creating a value, you are creating value, making value, for them. And they are willing to give you value in return.

The most important graph in the world is the modest title of a Reason Magazine article. They show that world per-person income was essentially static for all of history until about the year 1800. At that time, capitalism was invented. World wealth began to expand exponentially. Not only was total wealth increasing, but wealth per person was increasing drastically. So much that, within the next generation we could well see the banishment of absolute poverty.

All of this has required the creation of vast new wealth. Making fortunes rather than just earning them. When the per-person income goes from less than $400/year to $28,000.year, there must be more money in existence.

So there is a very important distinction. To "earn a fortune" means to move that fortune from other people's bank accounts to your own. To "make a fortune" means to create it, to produce a fortune that did not exist previously.

  • Interesting answer, but kinf of complicated to understand. For example: "To "make a fortune" means to create it, to produce a fortune that did not exist previously". Here, you said this, but when you make a fortune, that fortune actually existed previously, you gained money from others. You created value? Yes, but the money you got was still coming from people. If you want to LITERALLY make a fortune, you'd have to either print money, or create value as you said. But at the end, that money will come from the people. Nov 10, 2020 at 21:35
  • @AdriánJaramillo Did you look at the graph? In 1800 the total amount of money in the world was drastically smaller than today, in 1990 dollars. Yes, LITERALLY creating value.
    – puppetsock
    Nov 10, 2020 at 21:49
  • Sorry didn't check the graph, I did it now. But anyways, "value" is a very non-specific term. I mean, before that time maybe money was not even created, but they had to use something in order to exchange.. Etc. That's also value. Are you talking about "monetary value"? Nov 10, 2020 at 21:52
  • 2
    Plenty of Americans say (e.g.) "a bus driver makes $3,000 a month". Making can be earning. Nov 10, 2020 at 22:43
  • 1
    Your answer, puppetsock, is not about English, but about a hypothesis from apologists of free markets. But thank you for your answer.
    – Sergei
    Nov 11, 2020 at 5:35

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