Please take a look at this:

The sunlight reflected on every wave crest, making the ocean a sea of sparkling stars.

I'm trying to understand both of the bold parts, the followings are my research:

1) The word making here is a present participle which has the same subject of the independent clause, the sunlight, to describe an action happening nearly at the same time as "reflected on every wave crest".

2) I have this structure: make something into something here, for example:

I made grapes into fruit juice.

As you can see, "making the ocean a sea of sparkling star" doesn't have into in it, so is it grammatically correct to use make something "something else"? I remember reading this kind of sentence a couple of times. But I'm not sure.

Can you help me clarify these two points?

  • 2
    21, Adele's second album, made her a very rich woman. Is there any problem? More importantly, you need to capitalize i, please.
    – user140086
    Dec 18, 2015 at 8:35
  • 3
    The word stars should be pluralized. Also, this seems more like a question for English Language Learners. But, yes, you can use making in this way to mean making something resemble something else, while omitting the word "resemble." It's implied.
    – J.R.
    Dec 18, 2015 at 8:41
  • 1
    Does 21 sound wrong to you? What can possibly be wrong with 21?
    – user140086
    Dec 18, 2015 at 8:55
  • 3
    @Sour - Rathony's comment has nothing to do with the album name or the lyrics from it. It was simply an attempt to show how the verb make is very flexible, and doesn't require an "into".
    – J.R.
    Dec 18, 2015 at 9:23
  • 1
    The subject of "making" is not sunlight, but the entire "The sunlight reflected in every wave crest" clause. On its own, that clause is a complete sentence, but that thought as a whole sets up the state that transforms the object "ocean". If the status changes, even just a significant piece, (e.g.a cloud passes) the dependant clause would, as well.
    – The Nate
    Dec 18, 2015 at 16:38

2 Answers 2


As @J.R. stated, not everything is made into something else.

His fabulous good looks made quite an impression on me. His death made me cry. Those are easy; they are direct consequences of the subject.

But when language gets a bit more metaphorical (the sea is certainly not made of sparkling stars), the demands of language are a bit looser. In the poem, Fog by Carl Sandburg:

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

The fog isn't really walking around on little cat feet or doing those other things; it's a metaphor.

"I made grapes into grape juice" is just a fact. Your example is a metaphor; the language is different.

  • 1
    I don't think it is appropriate to explain that the verb make could be used for a metaphor with the poem. The question should be approached with the verb''s unique characteristic that can explain why it can take the objective complement a sea of sparkling stars.
    – user140086
    Dec 18, 2015 at 11:15
  • @Rathony - Maybe you're right, in which case you should write the answer you think the OP needs. Dec 18, 2015 at 11:44
  • 1
    This implied preposition can apply outside metaphor. "I made grapes grape juice." or "She was turning red." are quite clear to native speakers and sounds less archaic to me than "I made of grapes, grape juice.".
    – The Nate
    Dec 18, 2015 at 16:51
  1. The word making is a present participle leading a participial construction (clause). You can Google it or look up the grammar book.

  2. The verb make is broadly used with following constructions:

(1) Taking an (one) object only:

My mom made a dress. I made a robot.

It means to form something by putting parts together or combining substances.

(2) Taking an object with a prepositional complement:

I made grapes into fruit juice.

It means to alter something so that it forms something else. In the sentence, the prepositional complement into fruit juice indicates the thing (fruit juice) to which the object (grapes) was altered.

(3) Taking an object with an objective complement which is an adjective:

He made me angry. She makes me happy.

It means to cause to appear in a specific way (angry and happy in the example).

(4) Taking an object with an objective complement which is a noun.

21, Adele's second album, made her a very rich woman.

It also means the same as No. (3). The second album caused Adele to appear as a very rich woman. In other wards, Adele became a rich woman as a (successful) result of her second album.

(5) Now, your example (simplified):

The sunlight made the ocean a sea of sparkling stars.

It has the same grammatical construction as No. (4). The only difference is the object of to make is a person in No. (4) and a thing in No. (5)

The sunlight caused the ocean appear as (look like) a sea of sparkling stars. In other words, a sea of sparkling stars appeared as a result of (due to) the sunlight.

The above examples are just four broadly used examples out of so many usages. As @medica explained in the other answer, a sea of sparkling stars is a metaphor.

[Oxford Online Dictionary]

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