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¿Qué significa la frase hace que en la siguiente oración? Pienso que el escritor de esta oración quería decir que la profesora manda a sus estudiantes trabajar en grupos. Pero, me parece esta frase ser inusual.

La profesora hace que los estudiantes trabajen en grupos de cuatro.

What does the phrase hace que in the following sentence? I believe the writer of this sentence meant that the teacher to ask her students to work in groups. But I am a little suspicious of the phrase hace que.

La profesora hace que los estudiantes trabajen en grupos de cuatro.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The general construct would be "hacer <algo>" (transitive), which can mean "do something" (an action), "accomplish something" (a goal or result), "make something happen". Compare

  1. La profesora hace su trabajo.

  2. La profesora hace que los alumnos trabajen.

  3. La profesora hace trabajar a sus alumnos.

In all cases, the words in italics work as a replacement for "algo", a direct object.que is needed here to make a verbal phrase (los alumnos trabajan) work as an object.

que : Introduce una oración subordinada sustantiva con función de sujeto o complemento directo. Quiero que estudies. Recuerda que eres mortal. Es imposible que lo olvide.

2/3 are similar, and the difference (both in meaning and grammar) is subtle. Analogous examples: "Quiero que comas / Quiero comer"

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It means what you think it means (making the students to something), in English the phrase could be something along the lines of:

The teacher makes the students work in groups of four.

And it is valid Spanish, it actually sounds quite natural to me...

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