Why do we force/cause/encourage/compel things TO happen but we don't make things to happen, we just make things happen. Where's the "to"? Why?

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    We also want things to happen, but we hope things happen with no "infinitive marker". It's presumably just "established idiomatic preference" that's now so strong we can call it a grammatical rule (it's one way or the other for most verbs, but I expect there are some "uncertain" cases where either is okay). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 20 '16 at 15:53
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    Because we do. I'm sorry, but that is the whole of the answer. Language is as it is, not as somebody thinks it ought to be. – Colin Fine Apr 20 '16 at 16:02
  • @FumbleFingers Note that we can also hope for something to happen. – Era Apr 20 '16 at 17:58

I don't know why we don't use a to, but it's well documented for this meaning of 'make'. See this definition:

make verb (CAUSE)

[+ infinitive without to]

The ​wind is making my ​eyes ​water.

What made you ​change ​your ​mind?

Just ​seeing Woody Allen's ​face is enough to make me ​laugh.

The ​photograph makes me ​look about 80!

It wasn't always like this: here is a sentence from Psalm 23 of the King James Bible (1611):

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures

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Make is called a causative verb in English. None of them "take" to: These verbs are:-let-make-have-get-help/

Examples: I made him do his homework. She let him come into the house. He had her paint the room. We got them the books from the library They help him do this work.

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  • Yes, but (archaically, KJV) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures And even today it's quite unexceptional to say Alcohol helps me to sleep as well as It helps me sleep with no infinitive marker. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 20 '16 at 17:53
  • The meaning of help him do his work and help him to do his work are not the same. The first means you are helping with the actual process of doing the work, the second means you do something that helps the person to do something on his or her own. – Lambie Apr 20 '16 at 18:37
  • If you think that, I won't bother trying to convince you otherwise. But I don't agree. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 20 '16 at 18:45
  • Both are grammatical. Just like: I like TO play tennis. and I like playing tennis. Those too are slightly different in meaning. And like can "take to" or not. Just like help. – Lambie Apr 20 '16 at 18:50

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