We use the phrase make it happen.

But why don't we use happens since it has the third-person pronoun it?

Why not

Make it happens

  • 1
    It is imperative mood! en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperative_mood – user5267 Dec 9 '14 at 11:29
  • 3
    The second verb in such constructions is always infinitive. – Andrew Leach Dec 9 '14 at 11:33
  • @AndrewLeach Which construction? – Maulik V Dec 9 '14 at 11:50
  • 1
    Hint: "He made it happen" --> "It was made ___." – Damkerng T. Dec 9 '14 at 13:26
  • In the Imperative, the subject is the Second Person "You" and is usually implied. – lurker Jan 2 '16 at 4:31

This is tough!

I think it goes same with let. The only thing I can make out is make or let does not directly involve the third person. Said that, the third person is not doing things but they are indirectly involved, without their consciousness. I'm not sure how to put it correctly in words!

Make him study -he does or does not study, yet
Let her go -she is not directly involved in 'going'
and so on...

All above mentioned examples don't involve the third person doing things directly. The rule is when they do it directly, we apply 's. And thus, when we say "make/let it happen, the it does not perform action directly as the subject.


It goes - a subject doing things directly, by itself
Let it go - Here, the subject does not do things directly

[This is the best thing I could come up with! Native's inputs will be very useful and I'm so curious for their comments!]

  • 2
    Yes: make, let, and help all work the same way. If their object is the subject of a subordinate clause, the object takes the objective case and the verb inside the subordinate clause takes the infinitive. It's really just grammar rather than any subtleties of meaning or what controls what. – Ben Kovitz Dec 9 '14 at 13:17
  • 2
    Sad to see that this answer was accepted, when the other answer is so much better. Sorry, but "the third person is not doing things but they are indirectly involved, without their consciousness" is both muddled and inaccurate. If I tell my co-worker: "We need that equipment fixed before tomorrow – make it happen," that's the second person, through and through. – J.R. Dec 10 '14 at 11:27
  • You said make it happen so...here it does not serve as a subject. That's what I said. – Maulik V Dec 10 '14 at 12:30
  • The hearer .. is not in control of the matter, no do they take action – that's WRONG; the hearer is the subject of the sentence, and the hearer is expected to take action. the third person is not doing things but they are indirectly involved, without their consciousness – that's WRONG; the third person has nothing to do with the matter. A learner could be led astray by this answer. – J.R. Dec 10 '14 at 13:16
  • For instance, if I say, Let him go. By control I meant that they are not directly performing an action. Editing for clarification – Maulik V Dec 12 '14 at 4:34

Because it is not the subject of the sentence. This is an imperative (a command or directive), given to the listener. The you is ellipted, because it's understood by both parties that the second is receiving an instruction from the first.

  • Make it happen.
  • You make it happen.

These two sentences have the same meaning (when given as commands).

It wouldn't make any sense for it to be the subject of the sentence, if you think about it. The thing that needs to happen usually doesn't have any agency; it can't perform any actions. For example, let it in make it happen mean reach one million dollars of sales. You can see that it makes no sense to say that the sales target should reach itself, but it makes a lot of sense to instruct a sales team to sell a certain amount.

We conjugate verbs in accordance with the agent performing the action. Commands are directed to someone, so they use the you form. It is the object of the command; the thing "receiving" the action, not the thing performing it.


'Make happen' is a phrasal verb. Use it in a sentence, 'make it happen' is imperative sentence. Therefore the structure remains to be 'make happen'; not possible to add an s 'make it happens' or 'you make it happens'. 'It' is not the subject in this sentence so as to conform with the third person use of verb. The word 'happen' though it's a verb form which can either be used as transitive or intransitive can function as an adjective in this sense: Make it happen. Make it beautiful. Some Verbs, as part of speech, can function as an adjective or even as a noun. It depends on use.

  • 1
    Make happen is not a phrasal verb. Happen is never transitive. Happen is not an adjective, it's a non-finite verb: Make it very beautiful or Make it more beautiful, but not *Make it very happen or *Make it more happen. What is unusual with make is that it takes a bare infinitival clause as a complement; to-infinitival clauses are more common. – snailplane Jan 2 '16 at 4:45

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