English Pracs

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How to make suggestions in English

In everyday life, we use language to serve various communicative functions. These functions could be connecting or bonding with people, expressing our feelings, sharing our thoughts and ideas, and making people consider our opinions or work on them. Using your first language for all these purposes does not make you strain. However, using English for these communicative events can be a little tricky if you are still trying to learn and improve your English. This article helps you learn about different ways we can make suggestions in English language. But first, let’s learn the difference between the word suggestion and its synonyms like “advice” and “recommendation”.

Difference between suggestion, advice, and recommendation

You make suggestion when you share your thoughts to make people consider it or take actions on it. It is often informal and a broader concept. For example, someone asks you to come up with ideas for the weekend. In response you say, “We could stay home, cook and watch some movies on Netflix.” This is a suggestion.

Advice on the other hand is more authoritative and formal. For example, a sentence like “you should start exercising” coming from a doctor is a piece of advice.

Finally, recommendation sits right in the middle in terms of degree of formality. A recommendation is a suggestion given from a place of expertise or knowledge. In other words, you can give recommendation only if you have experienced the thing that you are recommending or if you have a lot of knowledge about it. For instance, when you recommend something, you might say something like, “I recommend reading Marc’s poetry. They are so beautiful.”

Now that you know the difference between the words, let’s learn some ways to make suggestions. There are many ways to make suggestion in English. Before, I list out those ways, watch the video below. It is a cheat sheet for you to learn the structures.

The video provides you five different structures to make suggestions in English. Here are those structures and example sentences:

Using let’s/let us

The most simple, common and straightforward way to make suggestion is using let’s or short for let us. Below are some examples.

It’s cold outside. Let’s go inside and drink hot chocolate.

Are you free coming saturday? Let’s go for a movie.

Now just like the video suggests, make some of your own sentences.

Using could modal

We use could modal to make indirect or subtle suggestions. Like in the examples below, it might come with an if-clause. We can use this structure to make suggestion as a possibility.

If you don’t have any plan for this saturday, we could go hiking.

If you want to improve your language, you could maybe read more English literature.

You might wanna (want to)

It is a casual and indirect way to make a suggestion. See the examples below.

It’s gonna be a long wait before meeting the doctor. You might wanna bring something to occupy yourself.

The traffic is bad in the main route. You might waa take the alternative route today.

Using I/we suggest

In the list we have, this structure is the most direct and emphatic way of making a suggestion. When you use this structure, you are letting the other person know that you are indeed making a suggestion. Below are examples:

If you don’t want her to be broke, I suggest you start spending your money mindfully.

It’s a popular show and the tickets can be sold out soon. I suggest that we book them in advance.

Using why don’t you/we

Again, this is an indirect way of suggesting in form of a question. See examples below:

I don’t wanna go out. Why don’t we stay home and cook something yummy?

It’s a sunny day. Why don’t we go to the beach?

Point to be noted

While we discussed all these various ways of suggesting something in English, please note that we can use these structures to perform other communicative functions like requesting or even commanding. For instance when your boss says, “You might wanna review these files for the next half an hour”, it might very well be an order rather than a suggestion. The point of this article was to show you the structures that you can exploit to fulfill the communicative function of making a suggestion when the need arises. However, like in any other languages the intended communicative function of any utterance depends as much on context as on structure.