General Writing and Grammar Help/Be sure - make sure

Advertisement


Question
Dear Ted:

Is there any difference between "BE sure" and "MAKE sure"?

If so, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me some examples?

I have noticed that one difference lies in the grammar structure the two infinitive phrases follow: "be sure" is followed by the infinitive plus "to" while "make sure" is followed by "that" plus subject plus main verb. Am I correct?

By the way, is ti correct to call them "infinitive phrases"?

As always, many, many thanks for your kind help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

Is there any difference between "BE sure" and "MAKE sure"?

If so, when should I use each of them?

BE SURE is a "state of being."  It is a condition brought about by your feelings or beliefs:  

Paolo:  We will have strong thunderstorms tomorrow.
Ted:  How can you BE SURE?
Paolo:  I can "feel" the storms approaching, and I also heard the weather report.

MAKE SURE is NOT a state of being.  It is an ACTION.

Ted:  Paolo, will you MAKE SURE that the doors and windows are locked?
Paolo:  I am going to check them now.

Would you please give me some examples?

I have noticed that one difference lies in the grammar structure the two
infinitive phrases follow: "be sure" is followed by the infinitive plus "to"
while "make sure" is followed by "that" plus subject plus main verb. Am I
correct?

*** Not exactly.  BE SURE can also be followed by a noun clause beginning with "that."  MAKE SURE can be followed by an infinitive.

Look at these examples:

How can you BE SURE THAT you have enough money for that expensive gift?  [I know I do, because I have been saving the money for several months and I have more than enough money than is needed.]

The teacher will MAKE SURE THAT there is no cheating on the exam.

By the way, is ti [IT] correct to call them "infinitive phrases"?

NO, if they being with "TO," they are infinitive phrases.  But, if they begin with "THAT," they are noun clauses.  [This is the general rule; there many be exceptions.]

Ted

General Writing and Grammar Help

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Ted Nesbitt

Expertise

I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

Experience

I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.