Make, Produce or Manufacture?

“I can make my mark just a little bit, then great.” Florence Pugh, an English actress

“Those who educate children well are more to be honored than they who produce them.” Aristotle, a Greek philosopher

“It’s real easy to manufacture what you think the people want to hear, but that’s not very honest.” Buzz Aldrin, an American engineer

“Make,” “produce” and “manufacture” are the verbs that have a similar meaning, which is to create something. Let’s see how they differ and how to use the verbs correctly…

MAKE

When you make something, you create or produce something by working:

She can make her own clothes. (She can design and sew them.)

Can you make some coffee please? (Can you brew it?)

The camera was made in Japan. (The camera is a Japanese product.)

She’ll make a film about global warming. (She’ll create a film about global warming.)

There are many phrases (collocations) with “make” that learners should memorize. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • to make (= to earn) money: He and Mills decided to make money by getting day jobs.
  • to make an attempt (= to try to do sth.): She has made no attempt to contact her mother.
  • to make a mistake: Try not to make the same mistake. (= Try not to repeat the mistake.)
  • to make (= to take) a decision: This decision was difficult to make.
  • to make (= to achieve) progress: I hope we’ll make progress in all areas. 
  • to make a contribution: This study makes an outstanding contribution to our understanding of the disease.
  • to make a change: People can eat more healthily without making major changes to their diet.
  • to make a noise (= to be noisy): I told him not to make a noise.
  • to make a sound: Please don’t make a sound. (= Please be quiet.)
  • to make a note: She made a mental note to ring them in the morning. (= She remembered to ring them.)
  • to make (= to give) a statement: The minister will make a statement on that issue later today.
  • to make (= to give, offer) a suggestion: May I make a suggestion? 
  • to make (= to pass) a remark: Before concluding, I’d like to make a remark.
  • to make (= to voice) a complaint: If you want to make a complaint, I’ll back you up. 
  • to make the bed: I hate making the bed. (= I hate making the sheets and covers on a bed tidy.)
  • to make (= to arrange) an appointment: I’ve made an appointment with the doctor.
  • to make one’s mark: She made her mark in the film industry in the 1960s. (= She became famous and successful by doing something significant in the film industry.)

Related: “Make & Do: Usage & Collocations

PRODUCE

To produce something is to make or grow something, especially in large quantities and in order to be sold. We also use “produce” to talk about things that are made by a natural process:

We are now producing the same quantity of goods with far fewer workers.

The factory produces about 900 cars a year.

Plastic bottles are less expensive to produce.

The region produces some of the best wine in France.

This plant will produce small yellow flowers in the spring.

The body produces chemicals called endorphins to control the pain.

If something causes a particular reaction or result, it produces the reaction or result:

Other options will be considered if the talks fail to produce results.

Nuts produce an allergic reaction in some people.

Efforts to produce a consensus among the member states ended in failure.

Finally, “produce” can mean to show (1) something , and to control how a film, play, programme, or musical recording is made (2):

One of the men suddenly produced a gun from his pocket. (1)

He’s produced some of the top Broadway shows. (2)

To produce also means to have a baby. If you use the verb like this, it sounds quite formal: Those who educate children well are more to be honored than they who produce them.

MANUFACTURE

To manufacture is to make goods in large quantities in a factory:

The firm manufactures women’s clothing.

Local industries manufacture plastic products and boats.

We import foreign manufactured goods.

Selling all our manufacturing business to foreign companies is coming back to haunt us.

This meaning of “manufacture” is similar to the first meaning of “produce” – to make something. But “produce” can also mean to grow something. That’s why produce /ˈprɒdjuːs/ (noun) is fruit, vegetables, and other things that farmers grow. Production is more general than manufacture because manufacture refers processing a raw material into a finished product. “Make” is even more general than “produce” or “manufacture.”

The verb “manufacture” can also mean to produce a natural substance in your body (1) or to make up a story that is not true (2):

Diabetics don’t manufacture enough insulin. (1)

He manufactured an alibi about his car breaking down. (2)

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It’s real easy to manufacture what you think the people want to hear. (2)

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