How To Use Suggest & Recommend – English Grammar Lesson

Michael Confusing Words, Grammar 15 Comments

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Jack went to the doctor last week. The doctor suggested that Jack should stop drinking so much coffee. So, Jack went home and told his wife. She recommended drinking tea instead of coffee in the morning. If I were Jack’s doctor, I would also recommend he drink tea instead of coffee. Jack tends to drink more than five cups of coffee a day. Hey Jack! I suggest you cut down!

Today, let’s have a look at the grammar behind suggest and recommend. Unlike many verbs, suggest and recommend are not followed by an object + infinitive. We generally use either a gerund (VerbING) or a clause with that. The pattern would be that + subject + base verb:

  • Jack’s wife recommended drinking tea.
  • The personal trainer suggested using the treadmill for cardio training.
  • The doctor suggested that Jack stop drinking coffee. Not,  …suggested him to stop
  • The teacher recommended that we study this list of vocabulary for the exam.

When we use pronouns in the that clause, we always use the subject pronoun before the base verb. Usually, in American English, the base verb is used regardless of the subject of the that clause (even with he, she, or it):

  • She suggested that I go to that store.
  • I suggested that she go to that store. Not, I suggested that she goes
  • Jack recommended that he go to that store. Not, I suggested that he goes
  • The sofa? The decorator recommended that it go in front of the window. Not, …recommended that it goes…

In spoken English, that is often omitted after suggest and recommend:

  • The doctor suggested Jack stop drinking coffee.
  • The teacher recommended we study this list of vocabulary for the exam.
  • Jack recommended he go to that store.

We also use should + base verb when we talk about what was suggested

  • The doctor suggested that Jack should stop drinking coffee.
  • The teacher recommended that we should study this list of vocabulary for the exam.
  • Jack recommended that he should go to that store.

When we say a suggestion directly, we don’t use should:

  • I suggest you stop drinking so much coffee. Not, I suggest you should stop
  • I recommend you go to that store. Not, I recommend you should go

If you know anyone who might be interested in this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them. Thanks for studying today!

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