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I have some doubts about the construction of this sentence:

I want to make you able to play.

In my language this is a common construction. Is it a valid sentence in English too?

This is the form: subject + to make + pronoun + able to verb.

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There's nothing wrong with this construct. What makes you think otherwise? –  Irene Jun 13 '12 at 9:37
    
@Irene This sentence sounded strange... so I've asked to be sure that its construction is correct and used in spoken English. Please add an answer so I can accept it. –  Sara Jun 13 '12 at 10:06
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I want to make you able to play

is grammatical. If it confuses you, just compare with the shorter sentence

I want to make you happy.

Happy is an adjective and able to play is an adjectival phrase.

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And just to add to it: Compare Will you be happy? and Will you be able to play?. –  user20934 Jun 13 '12 at 10:19
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The sentence is grammatically correct, but it reads as awkward.

I think the main 'culprit' here is the words be able following the word make.

When we hear someone say:

I will make you... (or, I want to make you...)

our minds might interpret make as forcing someone us to do something:

I will make you eat your vegatables before you can have any desert.
I will make you do your homework – whether you want to or not.
I want to make you join the choir this year. (You should have joined last year!)

Secondarily, able to play is vague. How do we make someone able to play? Boost their self-confidence? Provide physical therapy? Sign a permission form? Tape an ankle?

Combine those two, and we get a sentence that's perfectly grammatical, but still a little hard to piece together:

I want to make you able to play.

Some alternatives (depending on what meaning you are trying to convey):

I want to help you be ready to play.
I want make sure you are able to play.
This medicine will make you able to play.

Your original sentence construction is fine, but some word combinations simply don't fit well into certain constructs.

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If that sentence sounds odd to you, you could try:

I want to enable you to play.

Enable has a definition of "make able."

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