I apologise if this is off topic, I'm an English teacher in Taiwan, but I'm finding more and more that I'm still an English student! I came across an incorrect sentence pattern and I'm looking for a better way to explain what's wrong with it to my student.

I came across an interesting question from a student that I could not answer the other day. I assume it has something to do with different classifications of verbs, but I can't find any reference to this particular problem in my grammar books.

Here is the sentence my student made:
My mother made me to sweep the floor.

The correct verb should be "forced"
My mother forced me to sweep the floor.

Why can't "made" be followed by an infinitive verb in this sentence?

I just explained to the student you can never use made + pronoun + infinitive.

Is there a more general rule I am overlooking?

thanks for your time!


Not a rule precisely, Gary-- some verbs just take the bare infinitive (i.e. no 'to') as object or complement: help, hear, make, let, have are some of them.
Hello Gary

I feel you are a good teacher very kind to your students. I'm a person who has nothing to do with English education but I admire you and I envy you because you have such bright students.

As Mr. Micawber already told you, and as you know very well, "help", "make", "let", "have" and sometimes "help" take the bare verb as their verbal complement and grammarians call them as "causative verbs", but, interestingly, the verb "cause" itself requires a to-infinitive, not a bare infinitive. How come that kind of messy thing happens? To understand this, we have to know that every language has been developed in the course of history. In the time of Old English (before 1000 AD), there was no to-infinitive. They used infinitives without "to". For example, in Old English the infinitive of "wash" (ie."to wash") was "waecsan" (-an infinitive), but the form of the verb for the 1st person present was "wasse", and people could know the difference by the different forms. But after the invasion of Scandinavians and Norman French, the English language became a vulgar language such as spoken only by common people who did not pay much attention to grammar. During that time, the verbal inflexions got worn. As the result, the morphemic distinction between the infinitive and the 1st person-present became almost extinguished. To overcome this inconvenience, what people did was put "to" before the verb to make the infinitive. Thus, they made a new grammar rule that "to" should be put before the verb to make its infinitive. But the old collocations like "make her wash", "have her wash", and "let her wash" were too colloquial and too familiar for people to change them into new collocations like "make her to wash", "have her to wash" and "let her to wash". So English people keep still the old grammar rule for such very common causative verbs like "make", "have", and "let".

Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Thanks, Paco-- I didn't know that.

(Psst!-- it's me-- forgot to sign in again. MM)
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