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I wonder if there is any difference between these sentences:

  1. I'm sure he will make a good teacher.
  2. I'm sure he will be a good teacher.
  3. I'm sure he will become a good teacher.

Also with the past tense:

  1. He made a good teacher.
  2. He became a good teacher.

My understanding is that "make" suggests that you have qualities for that. But the first three sentences sound the same to me. If the nuance in each sentence is different, could you explain that?

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The meaning is broadly the same, but the sentences are not always applicable in the same circumstances.

“I'm sure he will make a good teacher” implies that he is currently not a teacher, and that when (or if) he becomes a teacher, he will be a good one.

“I'm sure he will be a good teacher” is similar, but applies to a definite point in time, whereas “will make” applies to an unspecified (and possibly hypothetical) future time.

“I'm sure he will become a good teacher” implies that he is currently not a good teacher, either because he is currently not a teacher, or because he is currently a bad teacher.

I'm sure he will make a good teacher, if he decides to quit his office job.
I'm sure he will be a good teacher. Let's hire him for the next term.
I'm sure he will become a good teacher, after a few more years' experience. Right now he's mediocre.

Some examples in the wild:

signs your boyfriend will make a good husband [The marriage will turn him into husband, and the question is whether he'll turn into a good husband or a bad husband.]
ways to tell if he'll be a good husband [Same question as the previous one really, but phrased differently. After the marriage happens, he will be a husband; will he be a good one or a bad one?]
will my boyfriend become a good husband? [Here, means the same as the previous two.]
Separate or stay? Is there a chance he'll become a good husband? [Here, he is already a husband, but not a good one.]

The nuances can change if you add a time complement.

I'm sure he will make a good teacher in the fullness of time. But right now, he's mediocre.
I'm sure he will become a good teacher when he completes his education degree.

“Make” carries a sense of achievement, whereas “become” sounds more passive.

In the past tense, the implications are somewhat different for make. “He made a good teacher” makes me think that he is no longer a teacher.

  • Thank you very much for the very clear and detailed explanation. It's very helpful. – tennis girl Aug 9 '13 at 23:02
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They all mean the same thing. It could change dramatically in different contexts. As given, the first implies that looking at this person's qualities, he is destined to be a good teacher. The second and third, although implying the same thing, don't really say why he will be a good teacher. It could be your opinion or might be a set of reasons that we don't see here. So in short, context matters and the meaning of these statements would depend on it.

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