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, 2014 at 11:29
  • 3
    The second verb in such constructions is always infinitive. Dec 9, 2014 at 11:33
  • @AndrewLeach Which construction?
    – Maulik V
    Dec 9, 2014 at 11:50
  • 1
    Hint: "He made it happen" --> "It was made ___." Dec 9, 2014 at 13:26
  • In the Imperative, the subject is the Second Person "You" and is usually implied.
    – lurker
    Jan 2, 2016 at 4:31

5 Answers 5


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, 2014 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, 2014 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, 2014 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, 2014 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, 2014 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.


It's because the causative verbs "make", "have", and "let", as causative, go with object + bare infinitive: Causative verb + object + bare infinitive / I will make it happen / I let her go / I will have my dinner prepared (in this case the past participle replaces the substantive form of the verb)


As Juan pointed out in their answer, these kinds of verbs are called ‘causative verbs’ and they take object + bare infinitive. I will mark ill-formed/incorrect sentences with an asterisk (*). Let's analyse the sentence “he made me do X”:

  • he made me [object] do X [bare infinitive]1


  • *he made me to do X

If you're unsure, replace ‘made’ with caused me to:

  • he [caused me to] do X
  • *he [caused me to] to do X

the second sentence is ill-formed and incorrect in standard English

I'd also like to point out that it's true for ‘make’ only in active voice. The use of to is obligatory in passivised constructions:2:

  • he was made to do X


  • *he was made do X


  • *Make it happens

In the OP's sentence, ‘make’ can be analysed as being cause it to:

  • *[Cause it to] happens

this is ungrammatical because we always3 use infinitive after to in present tense, so the correct one is:

  • Make it [= cause it to] happen


  1. When the base form/infinitive is used without to, it's referred to as ‘bare infinitive’ as in I saw him dance (not *I saw him to dance)

  2. See CGEL: ‘Note also that when causative verbs like make and let are passivised, infinitival to switches from being disallowed in the complement to being required’ (p1186).

  3. Well, not always; there are sentences like I'm looking forward to meeting him, where we use gerund after to, but that's tangential to what we're discussing here


'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.
    – user230
    Jan 2, 2016 at 4:45

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