Shades of meanings in English: how to use the verbs Advise, Recommend, Suggest


English is often perceived as something not so complicated as some other languages ​​- to take the same German. But in fact, there are enough difficulties and subtle points in it (“Liverpool is written, and Manchester is read”).

One of them, which personally causes me great difficulties, is the correct use of words that are close in meaning. For example, figuring out when to use the verbs advise, recommend, and suggest was not so simple. I found an interesting post in which this question is parsed, and prepared an adapted translation of it.

What are these verbs for?

In general, all three of these words - “recommend”, “suggest” and “advise” - are used in situations where one person tells the other what to do. Yes, these words are partially interchangeable, but their meanings have shades that can make the substitution inappropriate.

Let us dwell on these same values ​​in more detail:

How to use Advise, Recommend and Suggest

The more you study the meanings and parameters and cases of using words, the more differences you begin to notice. In our particular case of the three verbs, the rules are as follows:

Suggest doing something

This form of the verb is used when the person proposing the action is himself involved in it. Often it is used in conjunction with gerund:
An example :

She suggested going for lunch.
In this example, the person who suggested going out for dinner is clearly about to go out.

Suggest (that) someone (should) do something / offer someone to do something

In this case, the person who offers the action does not imply his participation in it.
An example :

He suggested that I should go and apply for this job.
However, there are situations when such involvement is possible:
He suggested that we should all go for lunch.
An important point : the verb “recommend” obeys the same rules as “suggest.”

Recommend something / someone to someone / recommend something / someone to someone

For such cases, there is a special pattern “recommend / suggest / advise + noun” (verb + noun). If you want to describe in the sentence the person to whom the proposal is made, then here you can use the pattern “noun object + to + person”.
An example :

She recommended her dentist to me.
English learners often insert the “to + person” part before the verb itself. The reason is simple - in many languages ​​such phrases are constructed in this way. However, in English this is a mistake.
False : She recommended to me her dentist.

Suggestion + that + subject + base verb / verb + that + subject + basic verb

Perhaps the most difficult part in this whole topic. The structure in which after the verb for the sentence comes the so-called noun clause (description of the subject, when one word is not enough), a subjunctive mood is obtained.

The exact pattern looks like “verb of suggestion + that + subject + base verb”.
Examples :

My coworker recommended that she take a taxi home from the office. (A colleague recommended she take a taxi to the house from the office - it would be nice to do so).

The sales rep suggested that he put this offer on hold.

My other articles on the study of English and writing texts in this language:


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