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” ? 

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