The Do or Due Decision: Rules to Use the Right Word

, Staff Writer
Updated June 3, 2021
example due vs do
    example due vs do
    jamtoons / DigitalVision Vectors / Getty Images, tatianazaets / iStock / Getty Images Plus

When it comes to the English language, nothing is quite as frustrating as homophones. These are fun little words like “do” and “due” that have different spellings and meanings but are pronounced the same way. To eliminate any confusion, get simple rules for when you use "do" vs. "due."

When to Use “Do”

How can you know when to use “do”? By looking at its definition, of course. The verb “to do” means you are performing some kind of action. In a sentence, this looks like:

  • I like to do my homework at home.
  • We do our shopping at the corner store.
  • I do my running at the track.
  • I do like that band.

You will also find “do” used as an auxiliary verb to clarify action in a question like:

  • Do you need help?
  • Do you like those peas?
  • Do you want sweet potatoes?
  • Do you know that guy?

"Do" can also function as an auxiliary verb in negative statements. For clarity's sake, the examples will avoid the contraction don’t, but just remember it could be in there too. For instance, the first example sentence could be rewritten as, "I don't believe aliens exist."

  • I do not believe aliens exist.
  • We do not like the flavor of black licorice.
  • I do not go there. It is dangerous.
  • They do not want that smelly dog.

Another way to remember the difference between “do” and “due” is to look at the tense and conjugation of "do."


Different Forms of “Do”

Since “do” is a verb, it can have different forms that it will take depending on the tense. Since it is an irregular verb, it only has one change in present tense conjugation. The third-person plural uses “does.”

She does her chores every Saturday.

In the past tense, “do” becomes “did.”

She did her chores last Saturday.

You have now mastered the rules of “do.” Great work! It’s time to move on to “due.”

Deciding on “Due”

When it comes to using “due,” the term is going to work as an adjective (to show something planned/expected or needs to be paid) or as a noun (in the plural form: dues). You can see how these are used in example sentences to drive this point home.

  • My paper for English class is due on Monday.
  • It is important to get the book back to the library before the due date.
  • Karen told me that our physics paper was due yesterday.
  • We are due for a home run.
  • Did you pay my dues for the gym?
  • Your dues are going to be due on Friday. (Notice the noun and adjective used here.)

Those are the main differences between "do" and "due." Since you've mastered them, have some fun with "do" and "due" idioms too.


Idioms Using “Do” and “Due”

English has a lot of expressions. It is one of the fun things about the language. But, it can be difficult when it comes to trying to figure out whether to use “do” or “due” in these idioms.

Is It “Make Due” or “Make Do”?

When you are going to “make do” with something, it means that you are going to improvise or manage with what you have. In this case, “do” will be your go-to word.

  • I’ll have to make do with a pen.
  • We will have to make do with a one-bedroom condo.
  • I don’t have a flathead screwdriver. Can you make do with a butter knife?
  • They don’t have sunglasses. You’ll have to make do with a visor.

Is It “Due To” or “Do To”?

Another fun idiom in the English language is "due to the fact (of)," which is generally shortened to “due to.” This usually signifies that one thing is attributed to or caused by something else. "Due to" is usually followed immediately by a noun.

For example:

  • Due to the traffic, I was late.
  • We missed the show due to a power outage.
  • School was canceled today due to snow.
  • The truck went into the ditch due to the ice.

“Do to” can also be used in a sentence, but the meaning and context are difference. This is typically found in "what" questions with a verb coming immediately after "do to."

  • What can we do to improve your experience?
  • What did you do to get the rash?
  • What would Abby have to do to earn your trust again?

One quick trick to know if you should use “due to” or “do to” is to see if it can be replaced with "because." If it can, then "due to" is correct.

  • The show was canceled due to low ratings.
    The show was canceled because of low ratings. (Correct)
  • What did Kylo do to deserve such punishment?
    What did Kylo because deserve such punishment? (Incorrect)

Not a Problem for the Brits

Pronunciation in American and British English is different. That’s why the accents are so amazing. Due to the difference in pronunciation, “due” and “do” aren’t typically homophones in British English.

  • In American English, they are both [doo].
  • In British English, “due” is pronounced [dewe] and “do” is pronounced [doo].

Difference Between “Due” and “Do”

Knowing when to choose “do” over “due” is just a matter of following the rules of grammar. Are you interested in learning more about idioms? View a lot of fun idiom examples. They are a dime a dozen!