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How to Make a Suggestion in English

Making a suggestion means telling another person what we think that they should do or what we think is a good idea. We are giving our opinion about what action another person should take.

It is important that we are able to make suggestions or recommendations in English fluently because we need to do this often in our professional and personal life.

There are different ways that we can make a suggestion or recommend something in English. In this lesson, we will cover the most important and commonly used ways.

1. The most common way to make a suggestion is to use the modal "should".

Subject + should + verb...
  • You should study listening more if you want to improve your English.
  • He should quit his job.
  • You should get your mom a scarf for her birthday.
  • Mark should be more honest.
  • They should come to the party with us.
  • We should try that restaurant next week.
  • You should watch that movie. It is really good.
We can change the word "should" to "need" if we want to use stronger language.
  • You need to see that movie. It is amazing!
  • She needs to tell us if she is going to be late.
2. Another common way to give a suggestion or recommendation is to use the word "could". "Could" is much softer and more indirect than using "should". We use "could" to give different options, but when we use "could" it shows that we do not have an opinion.

Subject + could + verb...
  • You could do yoga if you want to be healthier.
  • We could go to Thailand for the next vacation.
  • They could come to our house for Christmas dinner.
We often give more than one option when using "could".
  • If you want to be healthier, you could try yoga or Pilates.
  • We could go to Europe next vacation or we could go to Africa.
  • If he is unhappy at his job, then he could quit or tell his boss directly.
  • He could take the bus or the subway.
3. Look at the difference between "should" and "could".
  • You should try yoga.
    (=I think that yoga is the best for you.)

  • You could try yoga.
    (=Yoga is one possibility for you.)
As you can see, we use "should" to show our own opinion about what another person should do or try. We use "could" to just provide an option. We are not sharing our feelings or thoughts when we use "could".

4. We can also use some questions to make a suggestion or recommendation in an indirect way.

Why don't/doesn't + subject + verb...?
  • Why don't you try Jujitsu?
  • Why doesn't she break up with her boyfriend?
  • If you hate your job, then why don't you quit?
  • Why don't you buy a new car? Yours always breaks down.
  • Why doesn't he try to save more money? He always uses his money very recklessly.
  • Why don't they play soccer with us tomorrow?
How about + gerund/noun...?
  • How about trying this restaurant?
  • How about going back to school to get your master's degree?
  • How about this movie?
  • How about getting your mom a necklace for her birthday?
  • If you don't want to go outside, how about watching a movie?
  • Since you don't want to get the red hat, how about the blue one? It looks good.
5. We can also just use the words "suggest" or "recommend". We can use two different sentence patterns to do this.

I suggest/recommend that + sentence
  • I suggest that you study grammar more.
  • I suggest that he think more about it before he makes a decision.
  • I recommend that she focus on improving her speaking.
  • I recommend that you go to Thailand for your honeymoon.
Note: We do not put an "s" after the verbs in the second party. This is called the "Subjunctive Form". It is very rare in English, so do not worry about it. Just know that in sentences with "recommend" and "suggest" that we do not add an "s" to the verb that follows "that". However, if you do put an "s" by mistake, it is not a big problem. English speakers can still easily understand and most people will not even know that you made a mistake.

I suggest/recommend + gerund/noun...

We use this when we are making the suggestion directly to the person that will do the action.
  • I suggest going to Europe in the summer.
  • I recommend trying that Mexican restaurant.
  • She recommends trying meditation to relieve stress.
We can also do this when both people know who will do the action or when it is general advice.

A) Mark says he wants to lose weight.
B) I suggest dieting and lifting weights.
(=I suggest that Mark diet and lift weights.)

A) It is hard for people to learn English.
B) I suggest speaking as often as possible.
(=I suggest that anyone who is trying to learn English speak as often as they can.)

6. We can use this sentence pattern when we will also be doing the action with the other person.

Let's + verb...
  • Let's try this restaurant.
  • Let's go home.
  • Let's tell her the truth.
This free English lesson can help you become a natural English speaker. There are certain situations when the language that you learned in this English lesson can be very useful. Try to use one of these phrases or expressions the next time you speak English.

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