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I saw this sentence in a book: "If we work together, we will make it possible for the society to provide us with more facilities." But I had read from a TOEFL structure book that I should avoid using an infinitive or an -ing form of a verb word after a person or thing in a causative with make. For example, "I made the machine work".

Here is my question. Do we always use a verb word after 'make'? Is the first sentence wrong?

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I believe that your TOEFL structure book is correct. Just note that an infinitive without to is still called an infinitive. To make things clear, we can explicitly call them infinitive with to (to work) or infinitive without to (work). –  Damkerng T. Jan 6 at 14:51
    
Make love to you? –  user1306322 Jan 6 at 20:22
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The suggestion in your book is correct; and so is your sentence.

Parsing the sentence like this can help.

If we work together, we will make it possible [for the society (to provide us with more facilities)].

The part [for the society (to provide us with more facilities)] is a prepositional phrase. The part (to provide us with more facilities) is a verb phrase. However, it might be easier to understand it as explained in Practical English Usage by Michael Swan,

291 infinitives (13): for ... to ...
1 infinitive with its own subject
The structure for + noun/pronoun + infinitive is very common in English.
It is used when an infinitive needs its own subject.
Compare:
- Ann will be happy to help you. (Ann will help.)
  Ann will be happy for the children to help you. (The children will help.)
- My idea was to learn Russian.
  My idea was for her to learn Russian.
[...]
Note that the subject of the infinitive is the object of the preposition for. Object forms of pronouns are used.
Ann will be happy for them to help you. (NOT ... *for they to help you.)

When an example sentence is marked by an asterisk (*), it means the sentence is ungrammatical.


The book also gives the usage of make in causative structures (in entry 335). Here is a summary,

  • After make + object, we use the infinitive without to.
    e.g. I made her cry. (NOT *I made her to cry. or *I made her crying.)
  • Note that the infinitive must follow the object.
    e.g. I can't make the washing machine work. (NOT *I can't make work the washing machine.)
  • In passive structures the infinitive with to is used.
    e.g. She was made to repeat the whole story.
  • In a few cases make can be followed by myself, yourself, etc and a past participle. The structure is common with understood and heard.
    e.g. She had to shout to make herself heard.
  • We can talk about an effect or change with make + object + adjective/noun.
    e.g. She made everybody welcome.
  • We do not use make ... be in this structure.
    e.g. You have made me a happy man. (NOT *You have made me be a happy man.)
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+1 This could be the nucleus of a Canonical Post on complementation. –  StoneyB Jan 6 at 18:15
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What you are asking is one of many usages of 'make' in a sentence.

I will make your stay comfortable.

I will make your stay possible.

As you can see the verb, make, is followed by an object and an object complement.

We will make it possible for the society.

This sentence uses the same structural pattern. The object of make is 'it' and we don't know what it stands for.

We will make it possible for the society to provide us with more facilities.

Now we can see that 'it' stands for 'to provide us with more facilities'.

We can say that 'it' is a dummy object of the verb, make, and the real object is 'to provide'.

In conclusion, we don't always use an infinitive (a verb word according to you) as an object of the verb, make, but we do use it often when it is required.

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+1 Note that 'for the society' here serves two syntactic roles, as in this question. –  StoneyB Jan 6 at 18:19
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