Do or Due – What’s the Difference?

Homophones are words that are pronounced alike but mean different things. Not only do they have different meanings, but they can also function as different parts of speech, like the words do and due.

Although they are pronounced the same, these words cannot be substituted for each other in any circumstance.

Continue reading to discover whether you should use due or do, depending on the context of your writing.

What is the Difference Between Do and Due?

In this post, I will compare do vs. due. I will use each word in at least one example sentence, so you can see it in context.

Plus, I will show you a helpful memory tool that you can use to decide which of these words is best for your purposes.

When to Use Do

do versus dueWhat does do mean? Do is a verb. To do something is to perform an action. Do is also used as an auxiliary verb, especially in the interrogative sense.

Here are some examples of both meanings,

  • “Mark, did you ever do anything about the mess in the garage?” asked Karen.
  • “Do you have any leftover pizza?” asked Luke, who had already eaten his own pizza.
  • After recording a 4-2 victory Monday over the Brewers, Gsellman said he would prefer to start but would do whatever the team wants him to do — start or relieve. –New York Post

Do is an irregular verb, which means it does not share the conjugation rules of most verbs.

Present Tense Conjugations of Do:

  • I/we do: first person singular and plural
  • You do: second person singular and plural
  • He/she/it does: third person singular
  • They do: third person plural.

The past tense is also irregular for do. It is conjugated to did in the simple past tense.

When to Use Due

definition of do definition of due definitionWhat does due mean? Due can be an adjective or a noun.

As an adjective, due means something that is planned or expected. If a library book is due on a certain date, it is expected that you will return it by then. If your car is due for an oil change, you should plan to have this routine maintenance performed soon.

Here are some more examples:

  • Kyle Schwarber was due for a home run, and he hit a fastball 470 feet onto Sheffield Avenue.
  • My statistics final was due at 5 p.m., but I did not submit it until 5:21 p.m.
  • Hiring at small businesses surged in May, according to the monthly National Federation of Independent Business survey due out later today. –The Wall Street Journal

As a noun, do it is most often used in its plural form, dues. In this context, due refers to regular membership payments made to a club or other organization.

For example,

  • I paid dues to the UAW for over a year, and the union used that money to defend machinists who fell asleep on the job.

Due to or Do to?

do to or due toBoth of these words are used with various phrases in English: pay your dues, in due course, do for, do someone in, etc.

One of the more common phrases about which people ask questions is the phrase due to and it’s longer form due to the fact. Is this phrase due to or do to?

This phrase is always spelled due to; it should never appear in your writing as do to. That said, this doesn’t mean the words do and to will never appear next to each other in writing or speech.

For example,

  • What will you do to stop us?
  • What can I do to help you?

As for the use of phrase due to itself, the traditional view is that it should be restricted to adjectival uses where it means attributable to.

For example,

  • The increase in job growth was due to (attributable to) a series of tax cuts.

Using due to as an equivalent of because is frowned upon in some writing circles, despite its increasing frequency.

  • I was forced to retire due to budget cuts.

-should read-

  • I was forced to retire because of budget cuts.

This is a subtle difference that less and less writers notice these days.

Lastly, the longer phrase due to the fact is rather clunky and, when possible (which is most of the time), simply choosing because is a better choice

Trick to Remember the Difference

Since do is a verb, and due is an adjective, the difference between these homophones is important to remember. Luckily, there is an easy trick to remember due vs. do.

Remember that due is an adjective that means expected or planned. Since due and expected each contain the letter E, remembering which word is which is easy.

Summary

Is it do or due? Do and due are homophones, but they are different parts of speech.

  • Do is a verb that means to perform an action.
  • Due is an adjective that means expected or planned.

Despite their similar pronunciations, they are never interchangeable in writing.

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