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SPOKEN ENGLISH: Why don’t you try… ?


Spotlight - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 8/2018 vom 25.07.2018

How to make suggestions in conversational English? Look at the examples, read the explanations and try the exercises. By ADRIAN DOFF


MEDIUM PLUS

What would you say?
Your friend Peter has a problem. He says his boss seems to dislike him, but he’s not sure why. You want to help by making a suggestion. What would you say?

A. You should ...

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... talk to her about it.

B. Hmm, maybe you should talk to her about it.

C. You must talk to her about it.

“Should” and “must”
Example A above usesYou should… This is a common way to make a simple suggestion:
• I’m running a 40-degree temperature. — Oh, dear. You should be in bed.
But if the situation isdifficult orpersonal , you could make a morecareful suggestion, as in example B. This soundsless direct than saying “You should…”. Example C usesYou must… In English, this sounds far too strong as a suggestion. You would usemust only to give acommand :
• (teacher to pupil) You must get to school on time. Or you could usemust to make arecommendation :
• You really must visit Salamanca if you’re in Spain. It’s a beautiful city.
Another way to make a suggestion more careful is with the expressiontry + -ing . This means “do this — maybe it will help”:
• I just can’t find a girlfriend. — Why don’t you try using a dating site?
To make a suggestion evenmore careful , you can useOne possibility would be to…:
• I can’t seem to find a girlfriend. — Well, one possibility would be to use a dating site.
I suppose you could (always)…
• Well, I suppose you could always try using a dating site.

Serious advice
To give stronger or more serious advice, you can useought to . It means the same as “should”, but it sounds slightly more formal:
• (parent to son/daughter) You’re nearly 30. I really think you ought to start looking for a job.
Another way to give serious advice is withIf I were you, …:
(to a friend or colleague) They don’t pay you enough. If I were you, I’d look for another job.

Asking for a suggestion
To ask for a suggestion, we can useshall :
• What shall I wear for the wedding? For more serious suggestions or advice, we can useshould , often withdo you think… ? :
• What do you think I should do?