Have you ever heard Es tut mir leid?
Yes, of course. Was tut dir leid?
Nothing, I'm no apologizing. I just wanted to talk about that verb: tun.
Why? Is there something special about it? I know the literal translation of that phrase doesn't make any sense: That does sorrow to me. Something like that, right?
Yes, that's right. And yes, tun is a special verb. It means the same as machen, to do, but is used in very specific contexts. I will give you some examples:
Tut es dir leid?
Are you sorry?
Was tut dir weh?
What's hurting you?
Mir tut der Kopf weh.
My head hurts.
I see, those are very specific uses and you can't translate them literally. It wouldn't make any sense.
The verb tun is used:
- for specific expressions (when one is sorry, or when something hurts)
- as a synonym of machen in certain contexts.
So what is the difference between tun and machen?
First of all, the expression from above could never use machen instead of tun:
Es tut mir leid. vs. Es macht mir leid. Mir tut der Bauch weh. vs. Mir macht der Bauch weh.
And what else?
Usually these two verbs are interchangeable. However, machen is used more frequently than tun.
That's not very helpful.
Don't worry, you'll develop a sense for it.
Das macht mir keinen Spaß!
See? You're already mastering it! And let me give you one little hint.
Ich mache meine Hausaufgaben. vs. Ich tue meine Hausaufgaben.
machen is rather used for saying you accomplished or you created something.
And last but not least, let me show you the (irregular) conjugation: