How to Use “Suggest”

“I don’t usually suggest going into something you cannot do, but sometimes you gotta jump in and land on your feet.”

Coy Bowles, an American musician

“Suggest” may seem to be a tricky verb because experience shows that many English learners tend to make the same mistake – use “to” + infinitive after “suggest”. So, let’s address the problem:

To suggest = to mention an idea/plan/action for someone to consider

Think about the verb as a synonym for “mention” – you don’t mention somebody (unless that somebody is the topic of conversation: I promise I won’t mention you (you may be the topic of that conversation) but I mentioned your ideas to Mary (now the ideas are the topic and the speaker is talking to Mary about them))  and you don’t suggest somebody either. Use “suggest” like this:

  • Suggest + something: I suggest this hotel for the wedding reception to you. Don’t suggest me for the job/as chairman (“me” is the object of suggestion in this case, not the person who will consider it).
  • Suggest + (that) subject + predicate: I suggest (that) we adopt a more pragmatic approach. I suggested that he should work less (use “should” after “suggest” in the Past Simple). It seems reasonable to suggest that all life forms on earth share a common origin. 
  • Suggest +V-ing: I suggest consulting the doctor.
  • Suggest + question word: Can you suggest where I could park my car?

To suggest = to communicate an idea without stating it directly or giving proof

  • Suggest + (that) subject + predicateAvailable data suggest that this proportion remains as high today, if not higher. The evidence suggests quite strongly that the fire was caused by an explosion. Are you suggesting I look silly?
  • Suggest + something: Your behavior suggests lack of motivation.

So, avoid typical errors using “suggest” as well as “suggestion“:

  • I like your suggestion on how to solve the problem.
  • I like your suggestion concerning the meeting.
  • I have come up with a suggestion as to how to do it effectively. 
  • I’ve changed the article a lot by following suggestions about the original topic.
  • My suggestion is that we should start acting right away.
  • Thank you for your suggestions for my paper. 
  • I am always open to suggestion/suggestions.
  • At the suggestion of his boss, he resigned. 
  • At the slightest suggestion of criticism, he loses his temper ( = even if there is a very small amount of criticism, he loses his temper).
  • She left the country amid suggestions that she had stolen from the firm.
  • There is no suggestion of fraud ( = there seems to be no fraud).
  • These healers claim to remove the pain by the power of suggestion ( =  the process by which a physical or mental state is influenced by a thought or idea).
  • He speaks with a suggestion of a foreign accent ( = his accent is slight).

COMMON COLLOCATIONS

Adjective + suggestion:

Constructive, excellent, helpful, practical, impractical, sensible, valuable, absurd [əb’sɜːd], bizarre [bɪ’zɑː], outrageous, ridiculous

Verb + suggestion:

To have, to come up with, to make, to offer, to give sb., to put forward, to accept, to act on, to adopt, to take up, to deny, to dismiss, to reject, to consider, to note, to look at

Suggest + adverb:

tentatively ( = done in an uncertain way), respectfully, tactfully, helpfully

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