Make Me Understand

The word make is easy to understand and it is one of the first words learned by students of any language. What sometimes confuses students of English, and English speaking students of other languages, is that in many European languages there is one word for to make and to do.

So what are we to make of (how are we to understand) the term make do? If we don’t have something we need for something, we must make do with a substitute. If we are making up a batch of cookies and we don’t have any sugar, we might make do with honey or corn syrup.

Makeup is also what women do to their faces and is also the noun meaning cosmetics. A woman makes up her face or puts on her makeup, and if she totally changes her hairstyle, cosmetics and fashion, she has a complete makeover.

Make up is also what we do after we have had a quarrel with a friend and we want to be friends again. If it’s a boyfriend or girlfriend we want to kiss and make up. Now, kisses might lead to more kisses and hugs and caresess, and we might start making out, and if we get really serious we might even make it.

Make out can have the perfectly innocent meaning of how are you coping? "How are you making out with your English lessons?" Make it can also mean to succeed or be successful: "I want to make it to the top." "Can you make it on time?"

If you want success and respect you must try to make something of yourself, but a young man who is too ambitious, ruthless, or is trying to seduce a woman, is said to be on the make – not a compliment since it carries the idea of being unscrupulous or without principles.

Children, as we all know, like to make up stories and often create whole dream worlds, they play make believe, and Only Make Believe is the title of a lovely song by Jerome Kern from the musical Showboat.


WORD PICTURES by Stephen Browne

published by inlingua GALINDO Language School