make of vs. think of vs. understand

zaffy

Senior Member
Polish
Longman says "make of something" means to have an opinion or understanding of something.
Well, looking at these two examples, they're both asking about opinions, aren't they?
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Now, what if someone, say, asks me to read a chapter from some book and then asks: "What do you make of it?"
Are they asking me about my opionion about the chapter or are they asking me what I understood from it?
 
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  • Tegs

    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    They're asking your opinion. You'd expect the answer to start with "I thought...".
     

    grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Now, what if someone, say, asks me to read a chapter of some book and asks: "What do you make of it?"
    If someone asks you to read the chapter of a book, it means you haven't read it yet, so "What do you make of it?" doesn't make sense.

    Assuming you did read the chapter, however, the question would be understood to ask you about your opinion about the chapter, not what you understood from it.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    And what if they asked me this once they noticed I'd finished reading it.

    "What did you make of it?"

    Wouldn't they be asking me what understood from it?
     

    Tegs

    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    No. I can't think of a scenario where "what do you make of X?" would mean "what do you understand?" rather than "what's your opinion?"
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Wouldn't they be asking me what understood from it?
    You may be mistaking the meaning of Longman's "to have an understanding of someone or something", which is not the same as "to understand someone or something"
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I think it's a weird question about a chapter in a book unless it's a very unusual book. It should be about something unexpected or unsettled in some way.

    "I didn't know what to make of her."

    The speaker thinks she acted in unusual ways that didn't fit the model for normal behavior. They weren't sure why she acts like she does and couldn't "figure her out".

    It's not just an opinion like "What did you think of the movie?" (good/bad)

    "What did you make of the movie?" implies the speaker thinks there was something about it that needs explaining (i.e. is in some way unclear or unsettled or odd or perhaps controversial).
     
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