How to Give Advice in English – recommend, suggest, advise, encourage… I’ve got some advice for you! This lesson is all about giving advice using correct sentence structures. Watch this English lesson to learn how to give advice using the verbs: “suggest”, “recommend”, “propose”, and “urge”. I also teach you about a very common mistake that ESL students make, and how to correct it. If you want to learn how to give formal advice in English, I highly recommend that you click on this video!


Hey, guys. I’m Alex. Thanks for clicking, and welcome to this lesson on advice verbs. In this lesson, we will be looking at how to give a bit more formal advice. Now, if you’re familiar with the verb, “should”, you know that we use “should” for advice. Like: “You shouldn’t drink and drive.” for example. Or: “You should exercise regularly.” Today, we’re not looking at “should”, we’re looking at other advice verbs. And we’re going to look at some correct structures when using these advice verbs. And I’m going to specifically focus on one very common mistake that I hear with a couple of these advice verbs.

So, imagine this problem: I need a better job. Right? I need a better job. This is your problem or your friend’s problem. Hmm, what kind of advice can you give for this?

Well, you should, you know, update your resume. Now, let’s look at some other verbs that we should use instead of “should”. You can say: “I recommend”, “I suggest”, “I propose”, “I advise”, “I urge”. “Urge” means that something is urgent and I’m pushing you to do it. Or: “I encourage”, okay?

Now, let’s look at what can follow these specific advice verbs. The first three here: “recommend”, “suggest”, “propose”, they can all be followed with these four structures here. So you can say: “I recommend updating your resume.” So you can use a verb + “ing”. Recommend doing something, suggest doing something, propose doing something. You can also use a possessive, like: “Your doing something”, so you can do… This is known as a possessive gerund and you can use this to give advice as well, if it’s a little more formal though.

So you can say, again: “I recommend your updating your resume.”, “I suggest your updating your resume.”, “I propose your updating your resume.” And the other two structures you can use are: “I recommend”, “I suggest”, “I propose that you”, so you have the pronoun in between the object, “that you update your resume”. Or without that, the same thing: “I recommend”, “suggest”, “propose you update”. So these two structures are known as the subjunctive. Right? So you can use the subjunctive with these three verbs. And actually, you can also use the subjunctive with these three verbs.

So the most common mistake that I hear and that I would like to correct today is a lot of students, when they use: “I suggest” and “I recommend”, specifically those two verbs: “recommend” and “suggest”, I always hear: “I recommend you to do something.” Or: “I suggest you to do something.” This is actually incorrect. The only four structures that you should be saying when giving advice with: “recommend”, “suggest” would be one of these four. So: “I recommend doing”, “I recommend your doing”, “I recommend that you do”, or: “I recommend you do.” Okay.

So you may be wondering: “Well, why did you write, you know, ‘you to update’?” There is a category of advice verbs that do use this structure, but it’s not “recommend”, it’s not “suggest”, it’s not “propose”. It’s, for example, these three verbs here: “I advise you to do something.”, “I advise you to update your resume.”, “I urge you to update your resume.”, “I encourage you to update your resume.”

Now, if you’re wondering… Let me put a star beside this, “advise”, “urge”, “encourage”. Okay? So these three can use this structure, you can use: “I advise”, “urge”, “encourage” the person + the infinitive. So you can do this infinitive form. “To” + the base verb. You can do this with these three verbs, but you can’t do it with: “recommend”, “suggest”, or “propose”.

Now, one more thing, you may be wondering: “Wait, with ‘advise’, ‘urge’, ‘encourage’, can I only do this?” No. You can say: “I advise”, “I urge”, “I encourage updating”, “your updating”, “that you update”, “you update”, “you to update”. So these ones are actually more flexible because you can use all of these constructions. However, with the verb: “suggest”, “recommend”, “propose”, only use these top four constructions. Okay?

That’s it, guys. If you’d like to test your understanding of these advice verbs, as always, you can check out the quiz on And don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel. Good luck, and I’ll see you guys next time.

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