• 'Determinedly molding herself into the image of a mighty prince, Elizabeth I made of England a true and mighty nation.'

("Elizabeth I" is pronounced "Elizabeth the First".)

I wonder why that sentence has 'of' in it? Consider these two versions:

  1. Elizabeth I made of England a true and mighty nation.
  2. Elizabeth I made England a true and mighty nation.

In my view (non-native speaker), #2 is more plausible.

Is #2 possible? If so, what is the difference between #1 and #2?

  • 3
    Consider: "Jill made [her boyfriend] [a ham sandwich]", and "She made [her husband] [a man]". Notice that the first version, if "of" is inserted, would have a different interpretation from what was probably intended: "Jill made [of her boyfriend] [a ham sandwich]" -- but then again, maybe she was very hungry and wanted a 180 pound meal to tie her over.
    – F.E.
    Feb 28, 2015 at 6:00
  • "Elizabeth1" was not the name of any monarch in the history of England. If you overheard someone say "Elizabeth 1," the standard way to refer to her is actually "Elizabeth the First," and this is written "Elizabeth I" (note the Roman numerals: the current queen, pronounced "Elizabeth the Second," is written "Elizabeth II" instead of "Elizabeth 2").
    – cpast
    Feb 28, 2015 at 6:11
  • What is the source? When and where it was written could be a clue.
    – user3169
    Feb 28, 2015 at 6:25
  • @user3169 this sentence was in toeic test.
    – Dasik
    Feb 28, 2015 at 6:35
  • @user3169 "(Determined) molding herself (into) the image of a mighty prince, (Elizabeth) I (made of) England (a true and mighty nation)" the answer is determined -> determinedly
    – Dasik
    Feb 28, 2015 at 6:39

3 Answers 3


Both #1 and #2 are grammatically correct. "Made out of" would also be correct. Even "made from" would be correct. There are subtle differences in connotation, though, which favor "made of".

Prepositions with make

When you make something—whether it be a cake, a shirt, a cabinet, or a true and mighty nation—usually you start with some sort of material. For example, to make a cake, you start with flour, eggs, and sugar. To make a shirt, you start with cloth. You indicate the material with a preposition. These are the most common prepositions for this purpose:

I made a cake from flour, eggs, and sugar.

I made a cabinet of maple wood.

I made a shirt out of dollar bills.

"From" suggests that the materials are consumed or transformed in the process of making the object, so they're not recognizable anymore, like what happens to the flour, eggs, and sugar when you make a cake. The materials were transformed from their raw state into the cake.

"Of" suggests that the material is still recognizable in the final object, like a cabinet made of wood or a shirt made of cotton. In phrases like "a cabinet of wood", "a man of character", "a novel of manners", "a nation of shopkeepers", the word "of" indicates something thought to be a deep, essential characteristic of the thing being described. It can't be changed without destroying or replacing the object.

"Out of" suggests a more radical transformation, like the strange idea of sewing dollar bills together to make a shirt.

None of the above are absolute rules or precise meanings. You could say "I made a cake of flour, eggs, and sugar" or "I made a cake out of flour, eggs, and sugar." Those are a little less fitting, because the core meanings of these prepositions (with "make") are as above. The core meaning of any word can be stretched, and the core meanings of prepositions in English often stretch a great deal.

Make without a preposition

As you already know, another way to use the word "make" is with no preposition at all, to indicate transforming one object into another, like this:

The new constitution of 1950 made India a secular and a democratic state. [Source]

Painting the walls a pleasant color can make your kitchen a warm and inviting place.

There are other ways to use "make" without a preposition, of course, but they're not relevant here. The important thing to notice is that the above phrasing suggests that the agent doing the making has great power to alter the original object by brute force or in an instant change. You can just get out some paint and paint the walls. The kitchen has no say in the matter. The material of the kitchen is not really important. The constitution of 1950 caused a huge transformation in India's government and legal system overnight. Again, this suggestion of arbitrary power over the object is not an absolute rule or precise dictionary definition; it's just suggested by this grammatical construction.

Of England

Now you can see why the writer favored "made of England". Here are the other main choices:

Elizabeth I made from England a true and mighty nation.

Elizabeth I made out of England a true and mighty nation.

Elizabeth I made England a true and mighty nation.

"Made from" suggests that the true and mighty nation hardly seemed to be England anymore, just as a finished cake doesn't look much like flour, eggs, and sugar.

"Made out of" suggests that England wasn't naturally well suited to becoming a true and mighty nation—that the transformation was maybe a bit like making a shirt out of dollar bills.

"Made" suggests, just a little, that Elizabeth performed the transformation herself, something like remodeling a kitchen.

This version:

Elizabeth I made of England a true and mighty nation.

calls upon the sense of "of" that suggests that the original material is still clearly present in the final product. It suggests that Elizabeth cultivated England's innate, already-existing capacity to become a true and mighty nation. It suggests that she acted more like a gardener, bringing out the seeds' natural potential to grow into plants, than as a kitchen remodeler. It suggests that the transformation was organic and profound, like the growth of a plant, not like repainting the walls in your kitchen. And it suggests that, after the transformation, the country was recognizably still England.

This is how prepositions and grammar work in English: there is no precise meaning or rule that applies consistently in all sentences. Instead, in order to communicate, people draw upon words and phrasings that evoke associations from commonly known, familiar phrases (making cakes from ingredients, cabinets of wood, etc.), and expect that you'll understand how those associations should be stretched to suit the sentence at hand. You pick a phrasing that most strongly evokes the familiar associations that you intend.

  1. Elizabeth I made of England a true and mighty nation.
  2. Elizabeth I made England a true and mighty nation.

For your specific examples, they both would have the same meaning. That is,

  • Meaning #A: England became a true and mighty nation, which was due to the efforts of Queen Elizabeth.

The general structure of version #1 will always (?) be unambiguous as to its syntactic structure (depending on the grammar source).

But the general structure of version #2 might sometimes be ambiguous as to whether it has one object and one predicative complement (PC) as in version #2, or it has two objects. Consider: "Jill made [Tom] [a villain]" (which has an object and PC) versus "Jill made [Tom] [a sandwich]" (which has two objects). And so, some sentences with the general form of this type of structure might then be ambiguous as to its semantic meaning.

= = = = = LONG VERSION = = = = =

This topic is actually an interesting one, grammar wise.

Version #1 has a general structure which will only allow one kind of semantic interpretation. (Though, the syntactic parse of it as to whether the noun phrase (NP) "a true and mighty nation" is functioning as an object or as a predicative complement (PC) might be unclear--the 2002 CGEL considers that NP to be an object.)

Version #2 has a general structure where that NP ("a true and mighty nation"), or another NP in that same location, could in some sentences be ambiguous as to which function it has; that is, it could be either a PC or a direct object.

VERSION #2: Its parse is:

  1. Elizabeth I made [England] [a true and mighty nation].

The NP "a true and mighty nation" is functioning as a resultative PC, and its predicand is the NP "England" which happens to also be functioning as the direct object of the main clause.

It has the structure:

  • 2.b Elizabeth I made [object/predicand(i)] [PC(i)].

It has the meaning:

  • Meaning #A: England became a mighty nation, which was due to the efforts of Queen Elizabeth.

But because the PC ("a true and mighty nation") is a NP, that might allow the possibility where that NP, or another NP in that same location, could be interpreted as functioning as a second object instead of as a PC.

Perhaps an example showing this ambiguity could be: "Jill made Spot dinner", where it is ambiguous as to whether Spot got to eat dinner or Jill ate Spot. Though, that doesn't seem to be very good of an example. Maybe a better one or two might arise somehow.

CAUTION: The following is an argumentation that is not consistent with the grammar framework that is described in the 2002 CGEL.

VERSION #1: Its parse is (with "of"):

  1. Elizabeth I made [of England] [a true and mighty nation].

The NP "a true and mighty nation" is functioning as a resultative PC, and its predicand is the NP "England" which happens to be the object of the preposition phrase (PP) "of England".

It has the structure:

  • 1.b Elizabeth I made [of predicand(i)] [PC(i)].

It has the meaning:

  • Meaning #A: England became a mighty nation, which was due to the efforts of Queen Elizabeth.

(Remember that this argumentation that was just given for version #1 is not consistent with the grammar in the 2002 CGEL.)

NOTE: The stuff below is being revised (and being written).

It seems that the 2002 CGEL disagrees with my analysis for version #1. For the remainder of this post, I'll present how CGEL might have analyzed the OP's version #1:

  1. Elizabeth I made [of England] [a true and mighty nation].

In my analysis of version #1, I had treated the NP "English" (which is the complement within the PP "of England") as a "predicand oblique", where it ("England") is the predicand for the PC "a true and mighty nation".

But CGEL doesn't have the label "predicand oblique" in their grammar. What they have is a label predicative oblique, where the complement within the PP is the predicative element for the predicand. For example:

  • "They chose [her] [as secretary]."

the predicand is the NP "her", and the predicative oblique is the bare role NP "secretary", and the PP "as secretary" is labeled as marked predicative complement. (CGEL page 255 [9], page 216 [2])


  • On page 257, footnote 31, they have the example "She made a man (out) of him" and they consider the NP "a man" to be an object.


Hmm, unfortunately, CGEL page 256:

[12.ii] She made (him) [a good wife]. -- [O: ordinary transitive construction]

So, they consider "a good wife" to be an object in "She made a good wife". Ouch. Oh boy.

Guess I got some editing to do. :(

Note that the CGEL is the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum et al., The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.

  • 2
    Haha. It's about the journey. :D Feb 28, 2015 at 10:38
  • Boy is that a complicated subject matter ... : ) I have a sneaking feeling there might be quite a few momophonous constructions there with slightly different grammatical properties ... Oh +1 ... Mar 1, 2015 at 23:30
  • Do you think there might be some kind of underlying control type thing going on there. "I made him a good tablecloth of the flag". Compare "He made her a good husband [of himself]"? Ok, just wild speculation there ... But it is like there's a thematic role missing in the OT construction ... Mar 1, 2015 at 23:41
  • @Araucaria "a good tablecloth of the flag" and "a good husband of himself" are interesting in themselves. Not sure if I'll be able to touch on them. I'll try to add bits onto this post as I have time. :)
    – F.E.
    Mar 2, 2015 at 4:21

Dictionary.com has this as one of its definitions of make of

to convert from one state, condition, category, etc., to another

Example: to make a virtue of one's vices.

The make + of combination with this meaning is commonly found in expressions such as:

She'll make a man of him.

A decent lawyer would have made mincemeat of his testimony.

This is the sense of make of in the sentence:

Elizabeth I made of England a true and mighty nation.

In this case, the writer has inverted the usual word order to position the object [a true and mighty nation] after the prepositional phrase [of England]. This is a stylistic choice which results in a sentence that is, to me at least, slightly more formal.

But the author's choice also reflects a general word ordering principle of End-weight or End-focus, whereby the longer, or heavier, or more important phrase is positioned at the end of a clause.

Sentence #2 is also possible and is no different in meaning to sentence #1.

  • "the object [a true and mighty nation]" <== Er, perhaps a predicative complement?
    – F.E.
    Feb 28, 2015 at 7:40
  • @F.E. In my understanding, predicative complements can be subject (subjective) or object (objective). A subject predicative complement is a phrase such as a teacher in My sister is a teacher. And an object predicative complement is a phrase such as an idiot in She called me an idiot. The OP's sentence does not seem to fit this pattern. How would you designate a mountain in Don't make a mountain out of a molehill?
    – Shoe
    Feb 28, 2015 at 8:13
  • The 2002 CGEL seems to agree with your position: page 257, footnote 31, in "She made [a man] out of him" they consider "a man" to be an object.
    – F.E.
    Feb 28, 2015 at 9:00
  • @F.E. I don't think there is any doubt about the object status of ham sandwich in He made a ham sandwich out of yesterday's leftovers. But your post shows that there is rather less certainty about the object status of a true and mighty nation in the OP's sentence, the CGEL's footnote notwithstanding.
    – Shoe
    Feb 28, 2015 at 9:49
  • Sentence #2 is ambiguous. To produce the same meaning as #1 it should read "Elizabeth I made England into a ..." Theoretically, #2 could mean "Elizabeth I created/made a true and mighty nation (name unspecified) for England." In context there's no likelihood of confusion, but I just thought I'd point it out. Feb 28, 2015 at 17:48

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