做 and 作 are two common words in Chinese language. They have many similarities such they have the same pronunciation, and both of them can be used as a verb. Many people, even the native Chinese, can’t differenciate them clearly. Today, I will explain these two words to you and find out their differences.
1. 做 (pinyin: zuò)
做 (pinyin: zuò) can only be used as a verb. Its meanings include:
1). create; make
e.g.: 做衣服(zuò yī fú, means “make clothes”); 这把凳子是塑料做的(zhè bǎ dèng zǐ shì sù liào zuò de, means “this chair is made of plastic”)。
e.g.: 做样子(zuò yàng zǐ)
3). to have relationship with somebody
e.g.: 做朋友(zuò péng yǒu, means “become friends”)
4). used as…
e.g.: 这块木板可以做椅子(zhè kuài mù bǎn kě yǐ zuò yǐ zǐ, means “this board can be used as a chair”)
5). to be…
e.g.: 做演员(zuò yǎn yuán, means “to be an actor”)
Except for verb, 作 can be used as a noun as well.
1). as a verb.
作 comprises lots of meaning when being a verb, such as “write” in 写作, “bestir” in 振作, etc.
2). as a noun (pinyin:zuò).
As a noun, 作 mainly refers to works such as 作品、作业、杰作、著作, and career such as 工作.
3). as a noun (pinyin:zuō).
Under this condition, 作 is different from 作 above. It pronoounces zuō and only used in “作坊”. Except for 作坊, all 作 pronounce zuò.
3. Differences between 作 and 做
When speaking of the differences between 作 and 做, it primarily lies in when they are used as a verb. The differences can be summerized as three points.
1). 做 is usually used to refer to something specific which you can see or touch such as 做衣服 and 做作业, while 作 is to describe something abstract like 作弊, 作曲, 作孽.
2). The objects following 做 tends to be neutral, like 做衣服, 做梦, 做东, while 作 usually describes something negative like 作弊 and 作假.
3). 做 can be only used as a verb, while 作 can be used as a verb as well as a noun.