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11 English Phrasal Verbs with "Make"

11 English Phrasal Verbs with "Make"

Phrasal verbs are combinations of verbs and other short words that form new meanings when put together. For example, using "look" and "up" together can mean looking toward the sky, but it is commonly used to mean "search for information," as in looking something up on the internet.

Because they are so common, phrasal verbs like these are very important to learn if you want to understand English and speak it like a native. We'll look at some different words in other articles, but for now, we'll focus on the different ways you can use the simple verb "make." Let's begin!

Make out

We use "make out" to mean "understand" when something we see, hear or are trying to read is unclear or confusing.

His handwriting is really difficult to make out.
It was hard to make out what was being said on the old recording.

This phrasal verb also means to kiss and touch repeatedly in a romantic way.

The teen couple found a secret area where they could make out without anyone finding them.

Make off with

A white bird in the sky, making off with a paper bag it has just stolen

If you are making off with something, you are trying to escape after stealing it!

The news showed video of the thieves making off with the stolen money.
He tried to make off with my phone while I wasn't looking, but he was too slow to get far.

Make sense

If something makes sense, it is understandable.

Does my explanation make sense?
That science-fiction novel was difficult to read. It didn't really make sense to me.

Make do

Many times, a situation is not perfect, but you still try to accomplish something as best you can. In these situations, we use "make do."

It would be nice if we had a bigger space for the party, but we'll make do with this room.
It's not everything we asked for, but we'll make do.

Make it

We use this to refer to appointments and plans. It means "to attend" or "to be on time," depending on the situation.

We're having a party tomorrow night. Can you make it?
It's almost time for the train to leave. If we don't go now, we won't make it.

By the way, we have another article all about this phrasal verb: 5 Ways to Use "Make It" Like a Native English Speaker.

Make light of

Making light of something means joking about it or not taking it seriously.

He makes light of his illness, but I think it's worse than he says.
I don't think we should make light of this situation.

Make over

A living room that has been made over with stylish furniture

The noun "makeover" means "a complete change in the appearance of someone or something." But this term can also be broken into two separate words and used as a phrasal verb.

Helen looked like a completely different person after her makeover.
Helen looked like a completely different person after she was made over by the professional stylist.
The whole room had been made over since we last saw it.

Make of

We use "make of" to refer to an opinion about something or someone.

What did you make of his business presentation?
That was an interesting movie. I don't know what to make of it yet.

Make fun of

This phrasal verb is another way to say "tease."

The kids made fun of Monty for the silly way he walked.
Her classmates used to make fun of her, but now she's one of the most popular kids in her school.

Make into

"Make into" means to change something into something else.

The clown made the balloon into the shape of an elephant.
I'm planning on making the garage into a game room.

Make the most of

This phrasal verb means getting the biggest benefit possible from something. It can be used to talk about things like time, opportunities and experiences.

Let's make the most of this beautiful weather and go to the beach!
She really made the most of her internship and learned many valuable lessons that will help her in the future.

Make up

As we've seen above, there are many words you can add to "make" to get a variety of meanings. However, most combinations only have one meaning each.

On the other hand, the phrasal verb "make up" can mean many different things depending on the situation.

To create/invent

When you make something up, you are creating or thinking of something, often suddenly and without preparation. It sometimes has a negative nuance, as in making up excuses to avoid punishment or using fake information instead of facts. 

I don't think he knew what he was talking about in his presentation; it seemed like he just made everything up.

To become friends again

Two young women in a coffee shop hugging each other and smiling after making up

If you make up with someone after a fight or an argument, it means you are returning to your friendly or romantic relationship.

They were angry at each other for a few days, but they made up after they calmed down and talked.

To compensate

If you make up for something, you are performing a positive action to compensate for something negative. For example, if someone takes a vacation, they will probably need to work a little harder when they return to their office since some work time was "lost" while they were away. In this situation, you can say that they need to "make up for" the time they were gone.

I have to work extra hard this week to make up for the time I was sick.
She felt pressure to be perfect to make up for the mistakes she made last time.

To prepare a bed for sleeping

The housekeepers make up the beds in every hotel room each morning.

To apologize

A young woman trying to apologize to her boyfriend who is still upset with her

"Make up" is also used when giving a gift or doing something nice as a way to apologize for something bad that happened in the past.

My next-door neighbor gave me a nice bottle of wine to make up for the loud party he hosted last week.

Add "to" to this phrasal verb to direct the action toward a specific person. Also, pay attention to the inclusion of "it" in this example.

I'm really sorry about what I said. What can I do to make it up to you?


Phrasal verbs are essential for natural-sounding English. One simple word can be used in a variety of ways depending on the words it is combined with.

As you can see, phrasal verbs with "make" are useful in lots of different situations. Study a few at a time and slowly add them all into your conversations until they each feel comfortable and natural to you. And when you've mastered these, you can move on to other words to expand your vocabulary.