I am trying to help non native speakers understand the [make(s)/made+ pronoun+adjective] sentence structure. They are struggling with picking the right adjectives. I am getting sentence such as

Badminton makes me busy. He makes me fun. Rain makes plants fine.

I am aiming not just for grammatically correct, but also naturalness. Are there rules to improve their adjective choices? Please help

  • 1
    Unfortunately, no. In cases like this, it comes down to what's idiomatic and what people normally use. All of those sentences are grammatical—but none of them are natural. May 10, 2019 at 15:30
  • To improve language, you need to be exposed to it, i.e. reading and listening to proper and idiomatic English. That is basically the only way you can get better. May 13, 2019 at 14:59

2 Answers 2


The examples you have given are all written in the simple present tense.

The types of English present tense and their uses are discussed in this article: https://magoosh.com/toefl/2014/the-four-present-tenses-and-their-ten-uses/

In particular, your examples are what the article describes as "General, timeless facts".

An idiomatic observation I can make is that when you use the simple present in X makes Y Z, Z should represent a timeless state, such as emotion. People are not perpetually busy, but they could be perpetually happy. It would therefore be valid to say, "My wife makes me happy." It would also be fair to say that when Y is a person, X would usually be an emotional or sometimes physical state ("The smell of the market makes me hungry").

  • Traffic jams make me late.
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 19, 2020 at 22:32

You might be better off having as a starting point idiomatic expressions like

and extract the grammatical "formula" afterwards. Such expressions will be recorded in dictionaries, so the fact that these are given expressions might have more impact on their eagerness to retain them in their memory.

Also, it is maybe good to point out that this is a construction specific to English, that one word synonym verbs do exist (in our case, to anger or annoy, to permit, to worry) and that it is not recommended to try to make similar constructions with different words by translating meaning from one's mother tongue.

If you start with a few idiomatic expressions and practice with them until they assimilate them, you can then slowly add more, and hopefully they will understand instinctively how it works and make their own expressions correctly.

You can also enhance their sense of English idiomatic character by correcting their own statements, instead of totally dismissing them. You can tell them, for example:

We don't say *"Badminton makes me busy", but it would be alright to say Badminton keeps me busy.

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