Thursday, February 28

What Do You Suggest?

Take a look at my example sentence below. Do you think it’s right?

I suggest you to join the club.





Unfortunately, no, our example above isn’t right.

Although some Verbs can follow the pattern “Verb + somebody + to V,” the Verbsuggest” can’t do this.

As a matter of fact, the Verbsuggest” must be followed by the V+ing; not to V.


I suggest to join the club. = X

I suggest joining the club. = Ok

Is this the only way to use “suggest”? you might ask. No, this isn’t the only way. You can also use “that” after “suggest.” Just like with some other Verbs:

I suggest + that + S + V

But if you want to use “suggest” and “that” together, you have to learn about the Subjunctive first.

The what?

What the Heck is the Subjunctive?

image courtesy of stock.xchng 

Take a look at our 3 words below. What kind of words do you think they are?

(1) Advisable, (2) Important, & (3) Necessary

In English, we have a group of words that we usually combine with the “Subjunctive.” The Subjunctive is a very special kind of construction, as you will see later. At this point, let me just give you the definition of the Subjunctive.

The Subjunctive goes together with some Verbs, Nouns, and Adjectives.  

For example,

  • Verbs = advise, ask, beg, dictate, insist, order, petition, propose, recommend, request, require, suggest, urge, etc.

  • Nouns = advice, demand, directive, order, proposal, recommendation, request, suggestion, wish, etc.

  • Adjectives = advisable, desirable, essential, imperative, important, necessary, urgent, vital, etc.

You should've noticed 2 things on our list of words above. First, the word "advise" is different from "advice." Aside from their spelling, the first one is a Verb while the second is a Noun. Please keep this in mind. 

Also, as you can see on the list, all our target words for today are connected to the Subjunctive.

Now, what can you feel about the Subjunctive Verbs, Nouns, and Adjectives? What is so special about them? What characteristics do they all share?

Well, we use the Subjunctive to talk about something that is important or essential. Maybe you have noticed this meaning from all our example words above:

Subjunctive Words: important, vital, necessary, imperative, urgent, demand, order, require, suggest, etc.

All of them talk about importance or necessity.

But please remember that, actually, the Subjunctive is a bit old. It is also quite formal and used more often in writing than in speaking.


Well, that’s because the way we use the Subjunctive is a bit different…

How to Use the Subjunctive

Like I said, the Subjunctive uses the “thatClause after it. Like this:

S + V + that S + V.

There are different kinds of Subjunctive words (Verbs, Nouns, Adjectives), so you have to learn each of them according to what type of word they are.

Whatever kind of word they may be, you should always put the Subjunctive in the first Clause.

For example,

Verb: He suggested that S + V.

Noun: His advice is that S + V.

Adjective: It is necessary that S + V

Got it?

Here are more examples:

Verb: The President ordered that S + V

Noun: There is a demand that S + V

Adjective: It is essential that S + V

Easy enough, right? But now we will go to the tough and confusing part of the Subjunctive. It is the fact that when we use the Subjunctive and “that” together, we should follow this formula:

S + V + that + S + V

S + V + that + S + base Verb

Do you see it? Can you see what kind of Verb we need to use inside the “thatClause?

That’s right. When we combine the Subjunctive and “that,” we should use the base form of the Verb. This way:

I suggested that he joins the club. = X

I suggested that he join the club. = Ok

Did you get it? It’s a bit strange, isn’t it?

Here are some more examples:

The President’s order is that the Secretary resigns. = X

The President’s order is that the Secretary resign. = Ok

It is vital that he increases his vocabulary. = X

It is vital that he increase his vocabulary. = Ok

It’s Ok when your Noun or Pronoun is plural. It sounds natural:

He suggested that we make every effort. (=Ok)

But sometimes the Subjunctive can sound really strange:

He suggested that she be early. (=Ok)


It is necessary that he doesn’t mention anything. (=X)

It is necessary that he not mention anything. (=Ok)

Like what we said, the Subjunctive is formal and is more often used in writing than in speaking. This is why you can see it in written grammar tests like the TOEIC.

Another Way to Use the Subjunctive

In British English (our lesson above is American), it is common to use the Subjunctive this way:

S + V (Subjunctive Clause) that S + should + V


I suggested that he should edit the report.

It is necessary that they should proceed.

For Somebody to Verb

Finally, if you decide that you don’t want to use the Subjunctive and the “thatClause, you can follow this:

It is Adjective + for somebody + to Verb


It is essential for programmers to keep up-to-date with all the latest technology.

It is important for you to adopt a healthy diet.

Of course not all of the Subjunctive words can do this.

For example:

I suggest for him to join. (=X)

I suggest him to join. (=X)

I suggest joining. (=Ok)

I suggest that he join. (=Ok)

Hope You Learned Something!

Keep on learning !

Next Topic: What’s the Difference between “Advisable,” “Important,” and “Necessary” ? 

Monday, February 25

More and More, Better and Better

The only constant thing in this world is change.

This popular saying means that all things in life change, but one thing always remains the same: the fact that things will change.

So we shouldn’t be surprised by change. Instead, we should expect and welcome it.

In fact, the sentence above is what we call a “paradox,” because it consists of two things that mean the opposite of each other (constant vs. change). But it is the truth.

image courtesy of stock.xchng 

In life, we sometimes have to talk about changes – big or small, personal or social, temporary* or permanent.**

*temporary = for a short time only

**permanent = for a long time

Some changes are also fast while some are slow. But today we’re going to focus on only slow changes.

For example,

The lamp fell and it broke. = fast change

You should start drinking your coffee. It's getting cold. = slow change.

When you talk about a slow or gradual process like this, it is common to use the structure:

Present Continuous or Be V+ing

Here are more examples:

My English (skill) is getting better.

I am getting better at speaking English.

The weather is getting warmer.

You are getting more and more beautiful every day. 
(a lousy pick up line)

*For some of you who are not familiar with the word “get,” it can have the same meaning as the word “become.”

How About Stative Verbs?

As you might already know, Stative Verbs are not usually used in Be V+ing form. This is because they talk about the mind or feeling, not action or active things.

So it would be wrong to use them this way:


I am believing my mom.= X

They are understanding the situation. = X

Note: If you would like to review the topic of Stative Verbs, just read:

But if you still want to use Stative Verbs for slow or gradual change, you can try adding the Infinitive (to + V).

Take a look:

I am starting to believe my mother. = Ok

They are beginning to understand the situation. = Ok

Of course there are some gray examples that fall in between. One such example is the use of the Verblove” as the more active “loving.”

If you’d like to read more about this topic, just click:

Better and Better

Because we are talking about changes taking place, we should also combine the Comparative form with the Present Continuous.


You are getting taller.

The test is getting more difficult every year.

"Taller" and "more difficult" are what we call Comparative forms in English grammar. Are you familiar with how to use the Comparative?

If you are, try and answer the following quiz. Please supply the missing Comparative form of the Adjectives or Adverbs below:

Adjective / Adverb

Comparative Form










Please think about your answers first before you check my answers.





And here they are:

Adjective / Adverb

Comparative Form


more intelligent

more expensive


more modern

more elegant

more quickly – or – quicker

more simple or simpler



If you made some mistakes or if you’d like to learn how to make the Comparative form, just click:

After you learn how to make the Comparative, just add them to your Be V+ing sentence to talk about slow changes:

You are getting + thinner

The prices are becoming + more expensive

The motorbike is going + faster

The mountain *trail is becoming + more dangerous

*trail = way 

The economy is getting + worse/ better (irregular Adverb)

And, if you want to *emphasize the change that’s happening, just repeat the Comparative.

*emphasize = make stronger

Like this:

You are getting thinner and thinner.

The prices are becoming more and more expensive.

The motorbike is going faster and faster.

The mountain is becoming more and more dangerous.

The economy is getting worse and worse.

As you can see, if you are not familiar with the first step, which is to make Comparative forms, then you can’t make good sentences about gradual change. So familiarize yourself with the basic step before you try making long, complete sentences.

At first you won’t be able to make it fast and you will make many mistakes. But like they always say:

Practice makes perfect.

More and More People…

In all our examples, we have been practicing with Adjectives and Adverbs only:

His body is getting stronger. = Adjective

I’m getting to know her better and better. = Adverb

But you can also use the Comparative in front of Nouns, to talk about number.


More and more people are buying iPhones.

Fewer and fewer students are attending the seminars.

Hope You Learned Something! 

Keep on learning !

Any Questions?

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