I searched The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) for "what make you". 10 results were returned. Here are some of the results.

GROSS: So what happens, in a way, is that this young star is afraid he's being stalked in the first part of the movie, but by the second part of the movie he's kind of stalking this guy who works in the video store who wants to be a filmmaker. He's stalking this kind of regular guy who wishes that he was well-known and making movies. What make you think about this reverse stalking?


LAUER: How about carbs? You hear people all the time say stay away from carbs, they're what make you fat.


" Permit me to inspect your lips, " Albrecht tells Nicole later as they walk the streets to their quarters. " What? Why? Are they soiled? " The Norman wipes them with a kerchief. " No, " says Albrecht. " I thought they might have turned brown from kissing our Master's arse. " Nicole shoves the laughing Saxon, with no more effect than if he had shoved a tree. Rather it is the Norman who staggers backward a few steps. " What make you of the Englishman's notion? " asks Albrecht. " That the traversed distance is proportional to half the weight of the body and the doubling-I mean, the " squaring' -of the elapsed time. " He cocks his head, his gaze on some unseen world. " If the body be uniform and the space a void. But would it be true in a plenum and for a heterogeneous body? Suppose we drop two bodies in water? One may fall more slowly than the other depending


Joining me now is John Banzhaf of George Washington University. He's in favor of a fat tax. Also with me, Jacob Sullum, senior editor of " Reason " magazine. He says the government ought to stay out of it. Gentlemen, good to see both of you. I'm going to start with you tonight, professor. Most of these people say that they don't choose to be overweight. They are addicted to food. What make you think by putting a tax on fatty foods, it will actually discourage folks from eating them? JOHN-BANZHAF-FAVO: It's very simple. We tried that with cigarettes which we know are addictive and state after state finding out just how expensive smoking is about $140 billion, have dramatically increased the tax. We've seen corresponding declines or dramatic ones in smoking. We're saving an awful lot of money. By the way, the total cost of obesity estimated by the U.S. Surgeon General is about $120


We would never take his statements at face value. We were always looking for what's the plot behind it, what's the political motivation behind it? And all politicians are irritated by that kind of thing. I think Clinton hated it more than most. BERNARD KALB, CO-HOST: Ann, the press has a way of giving itself an acquittal in its rich profundity. Now you've been around. And you've seen a number of presidents come through the White House. Putting aside the quality of presidents, what make you of the quality of journalists who are covering the president? ANN COMPTON, ABC NEWS: It really depends so much on the issues you have out there and these external items outside of the presidency that come in. George Bush had the Berlin Wall fall down. And then he had a Persian Gulf War. And when you have a big, major story moving like that and reporters chasing what -- certainly not good news, but good, meaty stories like that and not focusing on the personal

I searched Google Books for "what make you".


It returned 220,000 examples. Not all of them use "what" as plural, but many of them do. For example:

God answered and said "Jesus held everything in his hands and he was human, he held the heaven and the earth, the erath destroyed itself three times and Jesus still had compassion for it, so what make you so worthy to bring this news to me?" (The Next Level by Qweon Lee Drayton-Washington http://www.fictiondb.com/author/qweon-lee-drayton-washington~the-next-level~454899~b.htm)


Meanwhile, Baker was now holding a sawed off shotgun under the countrer just in case Danny needed him for reinforcement. "What make you think that I would help you? Did you helped me when I went up?" Daniel boasted. (The Bridge Back: Sisters, Cousins, Foes and Lovers by Betty Ann http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Bridge-Back-Sisters-Cousins-ebook/dp/B0059HL63O)


"Don't be different," we are counseled, "go along with the crowd. What make you think you have an inside track denied to the rest of us? (Speaking of Christianity:Practical Compassion, Social Justice and Other Wonders by Robert McAfee Brown http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/481424.Speaking_of_Christianity)

Are these sentences using "what make you" grammatically correct?

  • 2
    No sequence of three words can be "grammatically correct" out of context. What were the ten result sentences? Sep 30, 2014 at 1:09
  • @JohnLawler I edited the question. Is the question clear now? Sep 30, 2014 at 1:26
  • 1
    In that case, it looks like what make you think is clearly a typo. That's why examples are important. Sep 30, 2014 at 2:38
  • @JohnLawler I have added some other examples from COCA. Sep 30, 2014 at 4:46
  • @FumbleFingers The answer there says: "This is an example of a free relative clause. The relative pronoun can be singular or plural, depending on the context." However, "what" in most of my examples are not relative pronouns. Sep 30, 2014 at 18:05

1 Answer 1


The first example looks like an awkward confluence of What do you make of this? and What do you think of this? It's either a typo or some written form of garbled thought.

The second example is "...they are what make you fat". In that example, what is referring to they, which in turn is standing for carbs. That sentence is not incorrect, it is just conversational. People do speak that way, however it is confusing in the written form.

Now that you have added other examples: What is a pronoun. The noun for which it stands may be either singular or plural. The rule is to look for the noun, which may be unexpressed, and then to match the verb form to the noun.

What make you? as a way to say "what do you think?" is correct. The last example what make you think, the noun to which what is referring is not clear to me.

Only one of your examples was originally written. The others are transcripts, verbatim reporting of speech. What is written to be read tends to be more clear than speech.

  • I have added some other examples from COCA. Sep 30, 2014 at 4:45
  • I searched COCA for "what are". It returned 29570 results. Not every result shows "what" is plural, but there are many examples which show it is plural. For example "What are at stake here are relationships: between former or future lovers, among friends and family, between a band and its fans." Sep 30, 2014 at 5:14
  • 2
    The last example, "What make you of the quality of journalists?" simply means "What do you make [=think] of the quality of journalists?" It's an ordinary question but archaically removing do-support.
    – Andrew Leach
    Sep 30, 2014 at 6:35
  • @AndrewLeach Since you mentioned archaically removing do-support, I would like to hear your opinion about the following line of Hamlet. "And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio?" Do you think this is also removing do-support? i.e. Does it mean "What do you make from Wittenberg?"? Sep 30, 2014 at 18:32
  • In Shakespeare's day, do-support was much less common. So Shakespeare didn't remove it; he never would have put it in. But it is equivalent grammatically to "what do you make from Wittenberg", since Shakespeare also has people ask "what makes he here? with the same meaning. Oct 1, 2014 at 18:30

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