Many useless experiments were prevented from being made by an adequate theory.

This is a sentence from an English textbook for Russian postgraduate students whose major is not English. The authors are also Russian, and at least the main author is a PhD in English. The sentence is supposed to teach you to recognize gerunds.

Is "made" correct here, or should it be "done" instead? If "made" is correct, what does it mean in comparison with "done"?

Please consider only these two verbs. I'm not interested in verbs like "conduct" or "carry out" although I know they would sound better.

  • 1
    Have you searched “make an experiment” and “do an experiment” (or similar phrases)? What did you find? Dec 11, 2022 at 21:13
  • @MarcInManhattan I have. Generally, "done" seems to be a better choice, but "make" might also be possible but with a different meaning. Since the authors of the textbook should be experts at English, I wanted to double-check.
    – athlonusm
    Dec 11, 2022 at 21:20

3 Answers 3


"Make", "carry out", "perform" "do", and "undertake" are all appropriate to use when discussing experiments. "Do" may sometimes be considered a little informal.



a scientific procedure undertaken to make a discovery, test a hypothesis, or demonstrate a known fact.

"a laboratory which carried out experiments on pigs"


perform a scientific procedure, especially in a laboratory, to determine something.

(Oxford Languages)


a test done in order to learn something or to discover if something works or is true:

Scientists are conducting/carrying out/doing experiments to test the effectiveness of the new drug.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

Some sources disapprove of 'make', others allow it:


► Don’t say ‘make an experiment’. Say carry out an experiment or do an experiment.

(Longman Dictionary)


  1. (intransitive) to make an experiment or experiments

(Collins Dictionary)

  • 1
    In American English, "make an experiment" sounds awful. I gather that's not so elsewhere.
    – cruthers
    Dec 11, 2022 at 21:32
  • @cruthers -it wouldn't be my first choice in British English. Dec 11, 2022 at 21:41
  • Ironically, the book "Collins COBUILD English Usage" says "make" is wrong: i.imgur.com/VzIwioa.png
    – athlonusm
    Dec 16, 2022 at 20:09
  • @athlonusm - you have learned that not all dictionaries agree. Dec 16, 2022 at 20:12

"Make an experiment" is wrong. "Make" does not collocate with "experiment".

"Do" is correct and natural. "Do" collocates with "experiment".

The Oxford Dictionary of Collocations says that "do" collocates, but doesn't mention "make".

FWIW, that sentence is badly written, even beyond that one mistake. The author's PhD might be in English literature or grammar, but not in writing.


"make an experiment" sounds (as George Orwell might say) barbaric. While there probably isn't an actual grammar error here, a better word should be found.

The entire sentence could be restructured to avoid the (double) passive voice, and a better choice of verb, such as "carry out", "perform" or even simply "do"

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