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I'm trying to figure out why this sentence (highlighted in bold) doesn't seem right? Could someone explain to my the reasons why it's not correct?

Here's the sentence, it's talking about Anwar Sadat and the peace treaty he signed with Israel:

"He had a major role in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 . He put a plan that would make Israel surrender and remove the idea that they are unbeatable."

I'm thinking that "would make" should just be made???

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    Could you please tell us where this quote is from? Also, could you double check that you've copied the quote correctly? – snailplane Dec 17 '14 at 13:59
  • It's a quote from a students paper (EFL student). So I know that there's other issues with it (sorry) but just wanted help with the would make vs. made. Let me know though if you want me to tidy it up first. – DC Foster Dec 17 '14 at 15:02
  • Thank you, knowing the source helps a lot. (Sometimes we get sentences that were originally grammatical, but are reported with errors on ELL, and we can't tell the difference...) – snailplane Dec 17 '14 at 15:04
  • I'd add the word 'forward' after 'put' but other than that, at the time he outlined his plan, the surrendering etc was in the future…. giving 'would make' & '[would] remove' – gone fishin' again. Dec 17 '14 at 15:24
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It depends on what tense you want to use. If you want to talk about the goals of the plan, you can use "would make". You can only use "made" if the plan succeeded, since "made" makes the sentence a statement of fact. If you want to use "would make" to describe the future in the past, it's probably better to refer to "the plan" instead of "a plan".

There are two problems with the sentence as-is:

  1. "He put a plan that..." is not a correct use of "put".

  2. "...the idea that they are unbeatable" uses the wrong verb tense.

Here are some correct options:

He put forth a plan that would make Israel surrender and remove the idea that they were unbeatable. [Corrected version of the original sentence.]

He put forth a plan that would later make Israel surrender and remove the idea that they were unbeatable. [Less ambiguous: If you want to use the future in the past tense.]

He put forth a plan whose goal was to make Israel surrender and remove the idea that they were unbeatable. [Less ambiguous: If you want to describe the goals of the plan.]

He put forth a plan that was supposed to make Israel surrender and remove the idea that they were unbeatable. [If you want to describe the goals of the plan, and these goals were not achieved. This implies either failure or much greater success.]

He put forth the plan that made Israel surrender and removed the idea that they were unbeatable. [If the plan succeeded, and was the main factor in the success.]

He put forth a plan that helped make Israel surrender and remove the idea that they were unbeatable. [If the plan succeeded, and other factors were also important in the success.]

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Yes the sentence in bold does look not quite right. To make it correct you would have to put the words "into action" at the end. This shows what he is going to do with the plan.

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  • It might be helpful to explain why "into action" is needed so that your answer can be applied to sentences other than this specific one. – ColleenV Dec 17 '14 at 20:09

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