Should I use "do" or "make" when I refer to sport?

"I like to DO sport"


"I like to MAKE sport"

  • To make sport [of someone/something] is a dated / archaic usage meaning to mock them (or otherwise amuse yourself at their expense). You can do sport, meaning engage, participate in sport . Or you could simply say I like sport - but depending on context that might mean you just like watching other people engaging in sports (singular or plural makes little difference there). Jul 23, 2016 at 19:14
  • @FumbleFingers At Dictionary.com, (certainly no laggard in declaring words out of date!) definition No. 6 is "mockery; ridicule; derision." "They made sport of him" is presented as an example usage without any indication that it is archaic or dated. Use it myself when appropriate, and no-one calls me a fuddy-duddy or tries to fit me with a merkin. Jul 24, 2016 at 10:14
  • @P. E. Dant: Your profile gives no details, but I'm guessing you're no teenager! Per this NGram to make sport of was eclipsed by to make fun of over a century and a half ago. Out of interest, I drilled down to the sport results for 1960 - 2000. Only a couple of dozen anyway, but a surprisingly high percentage had a religious context, which may be significant. Jul 24, 2016 at 20:48
  • @FumbleFingers True, I've been shaving for decades. Religious writing seems to preserve older usages for some reason - in the case of Catholicism, sometimes entire languages! Jul 24, 2016 at 20:58

1 Answer 1


Make would never be used with "sport" in this context. To "make sport of" has a distinct meaning in English: to mock, ridicule, or make fun of.

Do sport (note the singular noun) is a usage you might see or hear in Great Britain or the Commonwealth countries, and it is perfectly acceptable. It may be less common than the standard usage in North American English, which is play (or, in Great Britain and Commonwealth countries, play at) with the plural "sports":

I like to play (at) sports!

  • You could say "I like to do sport at school" quite happily.
    – sksamuel
    Jul 23, 2016 at 19:36
  • @Monkjack One could say it happily, and properly, but it would be a very uncommon usage stateside, and even in blighty. As much as I detest ngrams, yet see link Jul 23, 2016 at 19:49
  • You've just shown that x is more common than y. Not that y is wrong. So what's that got to do with it? English is full of repetition !
    – sksamuel
    Jul 24, 2016 at 20:04
  • @monkjack Precisely! I chose "commonly" in my answer with a clear knowledge of what that word connotes. I don't see a claim that "do sport" is "wrong." If that claim is in my answer somewhere, I'll remove it. Jul 24, 2016 at 20:13
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    @monkjack Here comes the dreaded Chat Invitation... well, obviously, when I have a moment, I should expand my answer to incorporate your and FF's comments. Jul 26, 2016 at 0:11

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