What's the difference between lave and gøre?
What's the difference between lave and gøre? Both of which translate as to do in English.
Here you can read, in depth, the distinctions between the words lave and gøre so you can feel confident that you're using them correctly.
The short answer is that you use lave when being very general and gøre when being more specific. As always, there are however many fixed usages and small nuaces in these words.
Verb Conjugation: lav, at lave, laver, lavede, har/havde lavet
You can use at lave when talking about or questioning very general things. Good examples are, what are you up to? What have you been up to? etc.
To do, deal with
Hvad laver du i weekenden?
What are you up to/doing at the weekend?
Jeg ved ikke, hvad han laver lige nu.
I don't know what he's doing right now.
Vi har ikke tid til at lave andre ting.
We don't have time to do other things.
Your work or profession
At lave can also be used when talking about what someone does for a living or in what studies they are engaged.
Hvad laver din far egentlig?
What does your dad do, anyway?
To perform, complete a task, carry out a movement or action
Hun laver lektier om eftermiddagen.
She does homework in the afternoon.
Jeg kan ikke lave armbøjninger.
I cannot do push ups.
Han lavede en fremragende frispark.
He did an amazing free kick.
There are many more uses of the verb at lave but the most common usually translate as to make.
At lave mad / at lave kaffe
To make food, cook / to make coffee
At lave fejl
To make a mistake
At lave musik / TV
To make music / TV
At lave penge
To make money
You could say, that with these examples we don't go into specifics, that is, what food, mistake, or music is being made, for example.
Verb Conjugation: gør, at gøre, gør, gjorde, har/havde gjort
So, whereas at lave refers greatly to generalization, at gøre on goes into specifics. Cooking is a great example because making food is very general, whereas the specifics of making food are more detailed, for example, what are the instructions or how do you follow the recipe.