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So there was a fill in quiz I had to do, and there was a question it says:

Bill can make a doghouse _ paper. That's cool.

I filled in 'out of'.

Bill can make a doghouse out of paper.

And my teacher said "No, it's not quite right, it's supposed to be

Bill can make a doghouse with paper.

out of and with have slightly different meaning."

She provided no further explanation. That made me really confused about it. Help?

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14  
You what? That's nonsense. The student's answer is perfectly valid and there's nothing (as far as we can see) in the question to specify the second answer and rule out the first. –  itsbruce Oct 8 '12 at 12:21
7  
@341464: Teachers frequently give fill-in-the-blank tests that ask for as many words as there are blanks, no more, no fewer. One blank probably means one word; you gave two. They also frequently give tests only on what their lessons covered. There are many ways to fill in that blank: with, from, out of, using, by folding, with glue and, with staples and, with tape and, etc. All those options are correct English, but probably your teacher taught you only with, so that's what you should've put in the blank. You must figure out what your teacher expects & give it to her –  user21497 Oct 8 '12 at 12:49
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Make of - build using almost only paper. Make out of - carve out of a massive block of paper. Make with - use paper in making it, but not as the only component. Make from - use paper, but the final result doesn't appear like paper (say, it's cinderblock created from burnt paper.) –  SF. Oct 8 '12 at 12:54
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@Bill, I hope your answer is a little tongue-in-cheek. Please don't be encouraging a student to conform without question to implicit rules. Student 341464, you could start by debating this politely with your teacher; he or she may be impressed by your imagination and independence and put more thought into future tests (hopefully not just buying them in). If s/he isn't that bright and imaginative, learn to give him/her what is required but never forget that these things should be questioned! –  itsbruce Oct 8 '12 at 12:56
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@BillFranke I absolutely abhor when that happens. Especially at times like this, when the alternate answer is perfectly valid. Tests should assess your knowledge of English, not your knowledge of what was covered in lecture last week. Sounds like a really lousy quiz. –  Ataraxia Oct 8 '12 at 13:29

3 Answers 3

up vote 20 down vote accepted

Bill can make a doghouse out of paper.

This is completely correct, and means that the product will be a paper doghouse.

Bill can make a doghouse with paper.

This sounds peculiar, but I would understand it as a dog house where paper has been used instead of something else, or maybe a doghouse that has paper parts but is mostly made of another material.

Similarly

I made the pancakes out of rice flour

implies you made rice flour pancakes, but

I made the pancakes with rice flour

means that you could have used rice flour and wheat flour together.

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The last example is more understandable than the doghouse one –  341464 Oct 8 '12 at 12:38

Your teacher writes bad quiz questions, unless there were some very careful specifications added that would disqualify your answer and require the allegedly "correct" one. Teachers who write questions which they think have obviously correct answers have poor imaginations, penalise students with good imaginations and instil bad habits in the more impressionable students.

Both answers are good English; the meaning is almost identical. You could argue that construction out of paper implies that paper is the principal component, where construction with paper does not, but I cannot see how that is relevant.

Were there any extra rules or guidelines attached to the quiz? Did it specify single-word answers? If not, not only is your answer valid but a case might be argued for many others.

Bill can make a doghouse lined with paper. That's cool

Well, lining it with fur would be insanitary.

Bill can make a doghouse into paper. That's cool.

His dad built him a miniature wood-pulping machine in the back garden.

Oh, I dislike unimaginative teachers who abuse their god-like position to make such arbitrary and indefensible judgements.

Thinking about it some more, with doesn't even directly imply that the item specified is a component; with, in this case, is equivalent to using and it is up to the reader to infer, from context, whether the item is an ingredient or a tool.

Bill made a pyramid with cardboard, scissors and tape; his teacher had told him it would be good for sharpening razor blades.

Which is another distinction between with and out of but still doesn't justify your teacher's ruling.

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1  
+1, especially for the possibility of a subtle distinction based on principal component; but in US insanitary, while correct would be puzzling, since it's rare compared to unsanitary. –  bib Oct 8 '12 at 12:36
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@FumbleFingers: no, it is not. It simply requires explanation, which I provided. It's every bit as good English (and as logical, if you have a miniature wood-pulper) as making paper out of a doghouse (although I wouldn't recommend it as an exam answer unless there's plenty of space to explain). Are you Student 341464's teacher? Or is this just some more of your "inadvertent carelessness"? –  itsbruce Oct 8 '12 at 13:03
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Was this quiz bought from a paper doghouse manufacturing company? That's the only reason I could imagine why this ill-thought out example was ever used. –  Pureferret Oct 8 '12 at 13:13
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@FumbleFingers haha, you're just like the teacher who graded this quiz. –  Ataraxia Oct 8 '12 at 13:37
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We would probably say turn a doghouse into paper, rather than make a doghouse into paper, but I can't work out why that should be the case. –  Lunivore Oct 8 '12 at 14:17

One implies materials, while the other implies tools. Consider the following:

Bill can make a doghouse out of wood.

vs.:

Bill can make a doghouse with a hammer.

In these cases, there's a clear difference. You wouldn't make a doghouse out of a hammer, and it's still kind of awkward to say you could make a doghouse with wood (though not as bad as the other case).

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Your answer makes it sound like out of is a better answer than with. –  J.R. Oct 8 '12 at 18:52
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@J.R.: I think it is. Unless the original test were to specify that it should be one word. In which case, I'd say another alternative would be from. –  Darrel Hoffman Oct 8 '12 at 19:49

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