He recommended that we proceed / proceeded with

Discussion in 'English Only' started by John Allison, Jul 31, 2013.

  1. John Allison Senior Member

    New York, USA
    Russian
    Hi all,

    I'm relaying (or telling over?) a discussion I had with my colleague to a friend of mine. The colleague said: "I recommend you proceed with option A" (meaining that the decision on whether to proceed with option A or B has not been made by the time we talked). What's the correct way of retelling this:

    a. He recommended that we proceed with option A.
    b. He recommended that we proceeded with option A.

    Now, imagine that by the time I tell this to the friend the decision had alreay been made. Would this require any change in the tenses? E.g.

    c. He had recommended that we had proceeded with option A but we sticked to B.

    Thanks!
     
  2. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    He (had) recommended us to proceed with option A. Choice a. is also possible, but not so neat.

    At least in BE we also use modal verbs a lot in this context: He recommended that we should/must/ought to proceed with option A.

    The past tense of stick is stuck.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
  3. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    Use the subjunctive:
    He recommended that we (should) proceed...
     
  4. John Allison Senior Member

    New York, USA
    Russian
    Thanks, se16teddy, I know this is a viable alternative, but I wanted to see how it works in a complex sentence.
     
  5. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    Hi John Allison -- welcome to the English forum.

    I find both a and b acceptable. The past tense can be used after recommend (like suggest or insist).
    To show that the decision had already been made, I would change C to "had recommended that we proceed/proceeded with option A, but we stuck to B."
     
  6. John Allison Senior Member

    New York, USA
    Russian
    Thanks, se16teddy, e2efour!
     
  7. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    The subjunctive construction 'we proceed' has no tense, so it remains unchanged whatever the tense of the higher clause containing it:

    They will recommend [we proceed].
    They might have recommended [we proceed].

    Likewise, the modal version has no tense - or at least, 'should' can't be changed to any other tensed form:

    They will recommend [we should proceed].
    They might have recommended [we should proceed].

    In discussing this sort of thing, it is better to use a third person singular example, because that shows the difference between tensed and tenseless alternatives:

    They will recommend [she proceed]. (subjunctive)
    They will recommend [she should proceed]. (modal)
    They will recommend [she proceeds]. (indicative - present tense)
    They recommended [she proceeded]. (indicative - past tense, agreeing with past tense of main clause)
     
  8. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    :thumbsup: Brilliant! That is the long and short of it. What is said/written sometimes is another story.
     
  9. dn88 Senior Member

    pl
    He (had) recommended us to proceed with option A. -- is that really better than sentence a.? I always thought that using "recommend" with an indirect object in such a way was considered poor English.
     
  10. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Hullo, dn.

    I have reasons to believe that the verb construction "to recommend + personal pronoun object + to Verb" is not part of the inventory of grammatical English sentences. Do yourself a big favour: follow boozer's advice.

    Best.

    GS
     
  11. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    Some people don't like this construction; however, according to the dictionary, recommend can mean advise (which can certainly be followed by a personal pronoun plus the infinitive, e.g. I advise you not to go there). It is recognised, for example, in Quirk et al. (Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language).

    "She was recommended to see the doctor." is an example in the passive.

    It may be that the construction is less common in AE.

    See a previous discussion at http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1542096.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
  12. dn88 Senior Member

    pl
    Thanks. :)

    When I hear "She was recommended to do X", I instantly picture her being designated as the most competent person to do X. Of course the remaining part of the sentence removes the ambiguity in the case of "She was recommended to see the doctor." but sometimes it's not nearly as clear-cut.
     
  13. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    It is true that many of the examples of this construction that one comes across seem to put the stress on the personal pronoun, i.e. the sense of recommend is not advise.
    I had a look at recommended him to in COHA and found a small number of examples in AE. Most of them come from the 19th century and the following two do not emphasise the pronoun (in total I found about 7 examples like this).

    The physician had recommended him to drink Madeira wine, and he might as well have prescribed nectar, so far as the sick man's ability to procure it was concerned. (1832)

    He … informed the emperor that it was the intention of Charles of Anjou to attack that city, and recommended him to furnish funds to the Sicilians … (1839)

    In the BNC we find:
    I was the one who recommended him to try for the job. (1979)
    I had recommended him to say he was considering his position and no more. (1990)

    A third example seems not to mean advised:
    He attached himself to the Sussex magnate Thomas Sackville, … who in 1594 recommended him to act as deputy to John Parker in a Chancery post. (1985)

    This is only a rough analysis, but I would be cautious about using this construction. On the other hand, I would have no hesitation in saying something like Her doctor recommended her to seek a second opinion.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013

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