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I understand the meaning of the words makes and causes. However, I'm having a hard time explaining to a student (that I volunteer with) as to why makes seems to be a better choice in the following sentences:

  1. The medicine makes me feel better.

  2. The medicine causes me to feel better.

The first sentence sounds more natural to me, but I cant explain why.

Can someone help? Thank you.

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    It sounds more natural because it is. It's the way people talk. It would be a more formal or technical usage to say the medicine causes someone to feel better.
    – Robusto
    Feb 9, 2018 at 20:46
  • Thank you for your answer. I suppose sometimes I just try to over analyse things.
    – user242899
    Feb 9, 2018 at 22:45

1 Answer 1

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By itself, "make" is neither positive nor negative:

I like going to visit my elderly neighbor. She always makes me feel at home.

I hate going to visit my elderly neighbor. She always makes me feel unwelcome.

Similarly, "cause" is neutral:

By just stepping on the stage, the Beatles always caused the teenage girls in the audience to start screaming.

The drug causes an adverse reaction in patients with a history of heart disease.

So why "make" not "cause"? As Robusto says in the above comment, "make" just sounds less forceful and somewhat nicer.

However you could use either, depending on the context

This drug makes me feel better (because I want to feel better)

This drug causes me to feel better (even when I don't want to feel better).

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