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To say that a map turns a diagram into a commutative diagram which of the following sentences is correct?

  1. The map makes the diagram commute
  2. The map makes the diagram commutes
  3. The map makes the diagram commutative
  4. The map makes to commute the diagram
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I'm not familiar with jargon related to commutative diagrams, but 2 and 4 are definitively wrong, and 1 doesn't sound right, either. – Eckhard Dec 29 '12 at 11:40
Different maps give rise to different diagrams. So commuting isn't really something that a map does to a diagram. On the other hand, it is fine to say that a leg makes a table stand, so 1. seems best from these choices, followed by 3. – Michael Greinecker Dec 29 '12 at 12:43
up vote 3 down vote accepted


  • The map makes the diagram commute. – This is the most common.
  • The map makes the diagram commutative. – Also seen, but rarer.


  • The map makes the diagram commutes. – English grammar demands a bare infinitive in the "makes <noun> <verb>" construction.

  • The map makes to commute the diagram. – You can't have "makes <verb> <noun>", but you can in principle say "makes <adjective or adverb> <noun>". It sounds archaic, however.

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With "makes the diagram commutes" I was thinking at "makes it possible that the diagram commutes". Not at all? – Abramo Dec 29 '12 at 11:47
Google agrees about the relative frequency: $387$ hits for "makes the diagram commute", $163$ for "makes the diagram commutative". – joriki Dec 29 '12 at 11:48
@Abramodj: "makes it possible that the diagram commutes" is grammatical, but such phrasing is not used. – Zhen Lin Dec 29 '12 at 11:51
One might say, "makes it so that the diagram commutes." But that's not any clearer or more precise than "makes the diagram commute." – Thomas Andrews Dec 29 '12 at 14:07

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