What does this marked sentence mean? In this paragraph, are the sentences following after the answer to the question the first sentence puts forword?

According to my understanding, "What to make of" is an incomplete sentence to me. Could you correct my mistake? Thanks.

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2 Answers 2


The previous paragraph talks about significant inventions that changed industry processes. "What then to make of ..." introduces the next topic as something similar. The author implies that 3D printing might be a game-changing invention, but I expect that, eventually, he'll get into more detail about its pros and cons, and whether it really has the same potential.


It's a rather uncommon sentence structure, but it helps if you add in two words:

What, then, are we to make of...?

It does sound slightly formal to me as a native speaker, and I doubt I would ever use it in everyday speech.

  • It's called an ellipsis, also the term for the three dots (...) that indicate missing words.
    – Andrew
    Jul 5, 2017 at 2:04
  • @Andrew That would be the structure that eliminates the object in this case, not the subject ;-)
    – Dan
    Jul 5, 2017 at 9:14
  • No. The subject is "we", and it is elided ("ellipsis"), as is the copula. Jul 7, 2017 at 3:16
  • @P.E.Dant I know. I don't mean the ellipsis. On re-reading, I'm not sure what structure I meant, so have removed the line.
    – Dan
    Jul 7, 2017 at 8:43
  • Discretion is, as the saying goes, the better part of valor. :) Jul 7, 2017 at 8:45

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