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The following is part of a blog post in The Huffington Post:

In the perfect world we would all be morning people. We would wake up calm, refreshed and ready to tackle the day. But this isn’t a perfect world, and many of us have hectic morning routines that are considered a success only if we're able to make it to work on time and with no coffee stains on our shirts.

I don’t understand the last sentence where it reads “only if we’re able to make it to work on time”.

Doesn't the verb make have to be followed by another verb without to?

Or, is this sentence used in a different way?

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closed as off-topic by tchrist, Josh61, TimLymington, Hellion, choster Jul 7 at 22:36

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In Frank Sinatra's song (by Kanter and Ebb) "New York, New York" he sings: "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere, It's up to you, New York, New York." New York City has the reputation of being a very difficult town in which to "make it"; ergo, if you make it there, you can make it anywhere. In other words, if you can make it in the town in which it is hardest to "make it," then you certainly can "make it" in a town that is NOT the hardest town in which to make it. Sounds logical, I guess! –  rhetorician Jul 7 at 0:51

2 Answers 2

In this case make is not the causative, which as you say takes an infinitive marked with to. We are not causing 'it' to work.

Instead, make is employed in the idiom make it to [a place]:

  • Make it means, approximately, succeed at or achieve success.
  • To is the ordinary preposition.
  • Work is not a verb but a noun, the object of the preposition: our job, the place where we work

So the full idiom means succeed in arriving at [a place].

You may understand this as "Our morning routines are successful only if we arrive at work on time with no coffee stains on our shirts".

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'Make it to' is a phrasal verb here, it's used to express the idea of arriving somewhere, which may have been difficult.

I need to make it to the bus stop on time, or I'll lose my job!

She made it to her friend's house with no problems, the traffic was very calm that day.

I made it to the finish line in 1st place! It was my 10th marathon.

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