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I have seen both variants with "make / do sushi" (e.g. There’s a little Japanese place near my office, which does great sushi!). What is the difference or how should I choose make sushi or do sushi? Is it about people and bars?

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4 Answers 4

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Make and do mean different things in the context of That place makes / does great sushi. Specifically...

If they make sushi, that definitely means they prepare sushi. They probably also sell the sushi they prepare - but for all we know, they might only sell to restaurants and other food outlets.

If they do1 sushi, that definitely means they sell sushi. We don't know whether they prepare the sushi themselves, or buy it in.

Without a doubt, make is far more common overall than do in this context. But note that Brits are more likely than Americans to use the latter (compare these BrE and AmE usage charts for make / do good coffee).


1 do (Cambridge Dictionary)
- to provide or sell something

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    Ah, didn't know we Brits were so fond of 'do' rather than make, but yup, very common substitute here. My own answer probably unconsciously leans in that direction. Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 16:35
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    It took me a while to find a suitable search string to throw at Google NGrams ("sushi" and "pizza" weren't common enough to show on charts, we can't really compare make / do in the context of "steak/s" or "fish", and Americans wouldn't talk about places that do great "fish & chips" anyway! :). I finally hit on "coffee", but even then I had to "downgrade" from great to good to get enough hits to make a usage chart! Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 16:48
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    @FumbleFingers I would usually use "have" here ("The restaurant has good sushi"). Incidentally: we Americans also call it "fish and chips"; it's reasonably common in New England.
    – alphabet
    Commented Aug 12, 2023 at 1:13
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    Would you really describe a place as “doing great sushi” if they buy it in? That implies some level of direct involvement to me. I might say that Starbucks does great coffee, because, while they probably get the beans and everything else in from some generic outlet, they at least make the coffee and pour it into a cup for me; but I don’t think I’d say that Boots does great sushi or my local pub does great beer (if I just mean Heineken or Stella), because I know that the product is made elsewhere and my local establishment’s role consists solely in putting it in a fridge. Commented Aug 12, 2023 at 23:31
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    … On the other hand, if my local pub actually puts a lot of work and effort into sourcing high-quality beer from independent micro-breweries and take pride in their assortment, then I wouldn’t hesitate to say that they do great beer there. It seems to me that there’s a scale of involvement, where ‘have/sell’ implies nothing but the fact that the product is available for sale; ‘do’ implies some unspecified, but non-null, level of being involved; and ‘make’ denotes full involvement by actually making it themselves. Commented Aug 12, 2023 at 23:34
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They can be considered equal, in this context.

To 'do sushi' really means they sell it, you can eat it there. They may make their own or buy it in from a supplier, but you can get it there.

To 'make sushi' points it more towards them making their own.

I can make dinner or I can cook dinner. Both involve me getting food onto a plate ready for you to eat.
For me to 'do' dinner you would need context to fully understand whether we were going to eat in or out. There's no absolute in 'do'.

'Do' is a word with many connotations in different circumstances.

"Can we do dinner?" Probably means you're going out.
"Can you do dinner?" Hard to tell without context.
"Shall I do dinner?" I'm likely offering to make it.

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    That'll teach me to stop reading before the end of the answer... :(
    – RonJohn
    Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 13:29
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When it comes to food, "make" and "do" do not mean the same thing. (for context, this answer discusses slang. I come from an American background. This might be different in different places.)

Make means that you are creating the food. In this case, cooking the rice and putting the sushi together. A chef or a cook makes food. Saying "We are making sushi tonight" would mean "We have sushi ingredients at home and will create the sushi."

Do in the context of food is a slang word and it means "to go do something" like an event. Saying "We are doing sushi tonight" means "we are eating sushi tonight." It doesn't say anything about who is making the sushi. Since sushi is often a meal that English-speakers don't make at home, I would assume that the speaker in this sentence is saying "We are going to a sushi bar tonight."

More Generally

If you are creating food at home, most English speakers will use the verbs make or cook. For example:

  • I will make pasta tomorrow.
  • Will you cook dinner for us on Saturday?

If you are going out to a restaurant or ordering takeout, you might use the verbs get or go (to). For takeout specifically, pick up is also used. For example:

  • We should go to the new pizza place that opened last week.
  • She gets coffee every morning from the local cafe.
  • I will pick up Indian food on the way home.

Some words are ambiguous, and could be used for either making food at home or for purchasing it. This includes do and also have. For these words, it's usually clear in context where the food comes from, or you can guess based on how common it is in the speaker's culture to make that food at home. For example:

  • Let's have tacos on Tuesday.
  • He does spaghetti twice a month.
  • Would you like to do curry?

(Most (white) Americans make tacos and spaghetti at home at least sometimes. Most (white) Americans don't know how to make curry.)

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    I think you're approaching 'do' from the wrong end, here. I can go out to 'do sushi' but the restaurant I'm going to has to 'do sushi' or I would have to go somewhere else for it. Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 16:25
  • Both are true, of course. If I or the restaurant make sushi, we prepare it. If I do sushi, I'm probably going to eat it. If the restaurant does sushi, they prepare and/or sell it. If the restaurant has sushi, they offer it. If I have sushi, I may have some available in my fridge, or I may eat it, depending on context. Commented Aug 12, 2023 at 23:36
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I1 believe your having trouble separating colloquial English from formally correct English. "To make" is the correct verb because it's used to describe the process of creating something. Sushi is something we create. We make Sushi.

In its formal form (and a bit simplistically, "to do" is one of our most complex verbs), "to do" means "to take an action." To quote a famous song from my generation:

Do the Hustle!

In that example, "to do" is directly equivalent to "to dance" because formally they both have the same context, "to take an action."

Do the Hustle.

Dance the Hustle.

On the other hand, "Sushi" isn't an action that one can take.2 But here's where the English gets fun, it's an experience that one can have.

Colloquially, "to do" has come to also mean, "to experience or enjoy something."

Let's do lunch!

Unfortunately, "to do" is very much more flexible than "to make" or "to eat" or "to enjoy" or anything else. Consequently, the phrase "let's do Sushi" could be used to mean either "let's eat Sushi" or "let's make Sushi."

That restaurant does great Sushi!

This must mean "the restaurant makes great Sushi" because restaurants can't eat things.

Let's do some Sushi!

Most of the time this means "let's eat some Sushi" because it could mean either "let's eat..." or "let's make...." However, I suspect most consumers of Sushi don't make it, so it's a safe bet that it's the former.3

As you study English, you'll find the verb "to do" used colloquially with great flexibility. You will often need to understand the context of the statement to derive the intended formal verb. However, it is a common and relaxed (informal) colloquialism that you'll find is fun to use.


1I am a native of the United States living in the Northwest.

2Adherents of Sushi might disagree with me about this, but the question is about English, not Sushi. I love Sushi, so I completely understand. As far as I'm concerned, Sushi is a state of being equivalent to an exuberant Nirvana. Nevertheless....

3I could be completely wrong about that. For all I know, everyone on Earth who eats Sushi has also made it. But from a native English speaker's perspective, due to the common colloquialism "let's do lunch," the phrase "let's do Sushi" without surrounding context would always be interpreted as "let's eat Sushi." Great. Now I want some Sushi.

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    This kind of misses the mark, in that assumes that just because this use of do is colloquial, it is not “formally correct”. ‘Formally’ is of course ambiguous here (do you mean ‘according to prescriptive grammar rules’ or ‘usable in formal situations’?), but I don’t think do falls foul of either condition here. Commented Aug 12, 2023 at 23:40

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