What is the difference between:

  1. "I did a few mistakes."


  1. "I made a few mistakes."

Are they the same or not?

My question is about the collocation: Can I use "made" for the word 'mistake' or not?


4 Answers 4


Do and make in this context are both light verbs. Which verb works is somewhat arbitrary; you'll simply have to memorize which light verb goes with which noun, one by one:

give a hug
make a mistake
take a nap
do a review
have a swim

The correct light verb for mistake is make, and your phrase made a few mistakes is perfectly fine.

In contrast, do is the wrong light verb, so your phrase *did a few mistakes is ungrammatical.

For more information about light verbs, see Huddleston & Pullum's Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (2002), p.290.


It should always be made - you don't do mistakes.

In the process, you "are mistaken", are "making a mistake"; you can be about to make one, but when it's* done & in the past, it's been made.

*it's = making a mistake. I put the ramble in to illustrate a little.

  • What do you mean by this sentence:"I put the ramble in to illustrate a little"?
    – Ice Girl
    Dec 13, 2014 at 9:06
  • 1
    Rambling on - talking about something beyond the need for it - I thought it was a bit bald without an example. To illustrate - to make it clearer. Obviously didn't succeed! Dec 13, 2014 at 9:15
  • @MarkWilliams I would have said "I put the rambling in." As a noun, "ramble" only seems to be used for the literal meaning of "a long, aimless walk in the countryside", whereas the more figurative "a long, aimless sequence of words" seems only to be used as the gerund "rambling". Dec 13, 2014 at 15:41
  • You can do it either way - but never mind. Dec 13, 2014 at 16:09

"I made a mistake." (correct English)- We never do mistakes but we make mistakes. So "I did a mistake."(Absolutely Wrong English)

  • Please do not repeat answers. This question is 4 years old and your text is not adding anything new.
    – user22427
    Dec 28, 2018 at 8:21

I believe personally that the proper way to say it would indeed be "I had a mistake." Think of it this way. You don't say "I made a take", however you say "I had a take". Or "I had a shot", so why when it is the opposite context that all of a sudden we put a "made" as opposed to "had"?

You don't say "I made a misfire in my car today." You say "I had a misfire in my car".

  • 3
    I think not. "I had a mistake" almost has to mean that you in some sense 'experienced' a mistake, either in your work or someone else's. It might be appropriate if (for instance) you are reporting that an error was marked on your paper (though in this case you would more likely say "My paper had a mistake"), but not if you are reporting that you 'performed' the error--which seems to be what OP wants. Jul 10, 2017 at 15:15
  • @Stoney Maybe we could say "I had a mistake in my notes that caused me to miss that question on the test." It has a different sense than the question is asking about, but I might say that if I were talking about a mistake I made a while ago and found later in something I wrote. "I made a mistake in my notes..." would also work though.
    – ColleenV
    Jul 10, 2017 at 19:39

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