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Is it better to have "become" in "make somebody (become) more mature"? For example,

The mathematical courses have made me (become) more mathematically mature.


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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Become is superfluous. The construction make X ADJ is equivalent to cause X to become ADJ, so the notion of become is already present in the idiom.

John made Susan happy.
The mathematics courses have made me more mathematically mature.

This is sometimes, but not always, the case with make X NOUN.

Washington made Lafayette a general = Washington caused Lafayette to become a general, and
The mathematics courses made me a mathematician = The mathematics courses caused me to become a mathematician, but
John made Susan a cake = John made a cake for Susan.

If you want to say that John caused Susan to become a cake—presumably John is a sorcerer of some sort?—you must say

John made Susan into a cake.

The construction with a verb phrase, make X VP, has a slightly different sense: not merely cause X to [do such-and-such] but required or compelled X to [do such-and-such]:

John made Susan bake a cake = John compelled Susan to bake a cake.
The mathematics courses made me think more deeply about numbers = The mathematics courses required me to think more deeply.
The Devil made me do it! = The Devil compelled me to do it.

If you want to express to cause X to [do such-and-such], you may use cause X to VP or you may say have X VP:

John had Susan bake a cake.
The mathematics courses caused me to think more deeply about numbers. ...This doesn't suit very well with have, because have implies deliberate agency. You might say "The mathematics professor had me read Euler's Vollständige Anleitung zur Algebra."

Note that we say mathematics course, not mathematical course. Mathematics is the subject of study.

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I see a slight distinction between made me, as in as a result of and made me become as in required me to be So the class made me a better mathematician, but the her teaching methods made me become a more methodical thinker. And using become emphasizes the transformation process rather than just the result. – Jim Dec 28 '13 at 18:07
@Jim Good point. I have added a section on the construction with VP. – StoneyB Dec 28 '13 at 18:39

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