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5 Ways to Use “Make It” Like a Native English Speaker

5 Ways to Use “Make It” Like a Native English Speaker
Hey Peter, sorry I couldn’t make it to your party on Saturday!
No worries. I hope you still had a good weekend.

Here, Shreya apologizes for not being able to go to Peter’s party. But why does she use “make it” instead of just saying “come” or “go”? Today, we’ll explain the top five ways English speakers use the phrase “make it”!

Meaning #1: “To be able to go to an event or appointment”

English speakers most commonly use “make it” to mean “to be able to go” to some event or place.

Will you be able to make it to our meeting next Monday?
Will you be able to come to our meeting next Monday?
I can’t make it to work tomorrow. Could you cover for me please?
I can’t go to work tomorrow.

Like the sentences above, most sentences that use “make it” could be rephrased with either “come” or “go.” 

The difference is that “make it” focuses on whether someone is “able to” come to an event or a place. And when a lot of time or effort is required for someone to come to an event or a place, English speakers are more likely to use “make it” instead of “come” or “go.”

For example, let’s say a couple from New York decides to have their wedding someplace far away, such as in Hawaii. At the wedding, the couple would probably say things like this:

Thanks for making it to this celebration of our love!
We want to acknowledge a few people who couldn’t make it to the wedding.

In both cases, they could have used “come” instead of “make it.” But they’re more likely to say “make it” because their guests needed to spend a lot of time (and money!) to get to their wedding.

Meaning #2: “To reach a destination”

A second related meaning of “make it” is “to reach or arrive at” a place, especially if it is difficult to get to. Here are some examples.

After a long, bumpy flight, we finally made it to Turkey!
We safely arrived in Turkey despite a long, bumpy flight.

“Make it” is often used like this with phrases like “on time” and “in time (for).”

I had a stomach ache but I still made it to school in time for my final exams!
Despite my stomach ache, I still got to school in time for final exams.

You can see “make it” used like this in the following sentence about a girl named Selah who is trying to climb to the top of a tall rock:

Selah's mother, Joy Schneiter, said she was worried that her daughter would get too tired to make it to the top.

“10-Year-Old May Be Youngest to Climb El Capitan” | Engoo Daily News

Meaning #3: “To qualify for something or achieve a goal”

English speakers also use “make it” to talk about people who have succeeded in qualifying for something. You’ll often see it used in the context of sports and other competitions.

A woman from my town made it into the Olympics.
A woman from my town worked hard and was able to get into the Olympics.
England didn’t make it into the World Cup Finals.
England was not able to get into the final round of the World Cup.
I can’t believe we made it to first place in the science contest!
It’s hard to believe that we got first place.

Here’s a sentence about a song that got third place in a list of songs ranked by popularity: 

Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" made it to No. 3 in the week ending December 21, 2019 to become the third highest-charting holiday hit ever.

“25 Years After Release, Christmas Classic Hits No.1” | Engoo Daily News

English speakers also use “make it” like this to talk about achieving a specific goal - like someone being promoted to a new role at work.

After 12 years at the same law firm, he finally made it to partner.
He got to the top of the law firm after 12 years.

Meaning #4: “To become very successful”

English speakers also use “make it” to talk about being very successful, especially in some type of work that is difficult to succeed in. When “make it” is used this way, it often also implies that the person became rich and famous.

It’s hard to make it in Hollywood, because there are so many talented actors.
It’s hard to become a rich and famous actor.
J.K. Rowling finally made it as a writer with her first Harry Potter book.
Harry Potter made J.K. Rowling rich and famous.

Related phrases are “make it to the top” and “make it big.” You can replace “make it” with these phrases in the sentences above and they would make sense too.

Keep in mind you can use “make it” to talk about someone even if they’re not famous. If you believe someone has become very successful, you can say they’ve “made it.”

My best friend has really made it in life. He’s got a successful career, a beautiful home and a loving family.
My best friend has achieved a lot in life. He's got a successful career, a beautiful home and a loving family.

Meaning #5: “To survive”

“Make it” also means to survive something serious, such as a disease, an injury or any other life-threatening situation.

My neighbor got in a terrible car crash and frankly, we didn’t expect him to make it.
The car crash was really bad and we thought he would die.

English speakers also use it to talk about dealing with difficult situations in general, even if they don’t involve the possibility of dying.

Our company has made it through many recessions.
Our company has stayed in business through many recessions.
I wouldn’t have made it through my divorce if I didn’t have the support of my friends.
I wouldn't have handled the stress of my divorce as well if I didn't have the support of my friends.

Do you have any questions?

If you have any questions about using the phrase “make it” or any other phrase in English, book a lesson with an Engoo tutor!

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