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Richard-Business Eng
Professional Teacher
Say and Tell and Recommend and Suggest... stop the mistakes


 can be followed by a direct personal object (me, her, him, them, etc.) or a noun.

We tell someone something.

Correct:  She told me she was moving to Paris.

Correct:  My teacher told the students that they were very smart.

Correct:  Please tell us the answer.

Correct:  Why did you tell Howard about my problem?

Correct:  What did the policeman tell you?

Correct:  Tell me your name.

Correct:  Why didn't you tell me?

Correct:  It might be a good idea to tell everyone the truth.

Correct:  Now I am going to tell you a secret.

Correct:  I told her she had to leave immediately.

Correct:  Did you tell him how it makes you feel?

Correct:  Did I ever tell you that you're so good looking?

Correct:  How many times do I have to tell you not to do that?

Say is not followed by a direct personal object.

Say/said means ‘speak/spoke the words’

We say something.

Correct:    She said (that) she was moving to Paris.

Incorrect: She said me she was moving to Paris.

Correct:  The weatherman said it was going to rain today.

Correct:   I like the way you say thank you.

Correct:   I won't say anything to anyone.

Correct:   It hurts my feelings when you say bad things.

Correct:   Why did you say that?

Correct:   She refused to say anything.

Correct:   You know, I won't be offended if you just say no.



Incorrect:  Suggest me something

Incorrect:  Recommend me something

Correct:     Suggest something

Correct:     Recommend something

Recommend and suggest are synonyms. They both mean: to say that something is good; to give advice; approve; commend. Usually, we are asking for a recommendation, so we don't need to say "recommend me or for me or to me". Sometimes a noun or pronoun can follow the verbs (the last two sentences).

Correct:  Please suggest or recommend a good movie, song, or restaurant.

Correct:  Could you recommend/suggest a good restaurant?

Correct:  Most doctors recommend/suggest exercising every day?

Correct:  I recommend/suggest we start immediately.

Correct:  Would you recommend/suggest going to Europe for a vacation.

Correct:  I would recommend/suggest trying the sirloin steak. It's delicious!

Correct:  I hope you can recommend/suggest a good hotel.

Correct:  Would you recommend/suggest Windows 10 or Windows 7.

Correct:  The doctor recommended I try a new medication."

Correct:  Please suggest a good restaurant for us to try.

Mar 6, 2018 3:03 PM
Comments · 20


There does not appear to be a specific rule, but the following may help to explain the unusual way we use verbs of suggestion (recommend, suggest, advise).

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.
The base verb (infinitive without the 'to') 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…]
-  The car mechanic recommended/suggested that it be repaired   [Not - ... recommended/suggested that it is repaired.]

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

March 7, 2018

Elizabeth... You are very welcome.  Thank you for thanking me :)

Diego...  If I did not receive a nice comment from you I would wonder where you were? :) I think I've noticed that your writing is improving... parabéns para você

Sudeep... Crystal clear is good :) I'm glad my humble effort helps a little. Stay well...

Eric... You are totally right. Thank you for your excellent examples. I've squeezed your examples into my original post (frustratingly exceeding the 5 K character limit a few times :)  Thank you for contributing to this discussion.

March 6, 2018

Rose... Thank you for your nice comment. I'm pleased if my simple explanation is helpful.

Mi Sha... You've asked a good question.

Some dictionaries say that the verb recommend and suggest should not be followed by a personal object pronoun (e.g., me, you, him, her, them, etc).
Other dictionaries say that it is correct, as you presented in your example.

I would re-write your sentence in the following way:

"I recommend you to that you not go to school as you are still weak ".

Special Note about Recommend 

The usage of the verb recommend to mean that you are 'suggesting someone for a job' can use a personal object pronoun:

I want to recommend him for the job.
That consulting company has a lot of experience. Do you recommend them?

March 6, 2018

So, it's incorrect to say:

" I recommend you to not go to school as you are still weak ". 

I mean, how can I put it, if someone asks me for a recommendation?

Thanks, Richard, for your post. 

March 6, 2018
Richard, we (Russian) have two verbs: сказать (to say) and рассказать (to tell). But often we get lazy and throw away the prefix from "рассказать" (and we get "сказать"), but still mean "рассказать". So when we translate our concised "сказать" into English we start confusing.
March 7, 2018
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Richard-Business Eng
Language Skills
English, French
Learning Language