Do not say 'suggest (someone) to do something'.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by ray8838, Sep 7, 2009.

  1. ray8838 Senior Member

    CHINA
    Chinese--Hong Kong
    Below is an extract from Longman Dictionary of Comtemporary English:

    !! Do not say 'suggest (someone) to do something'. You can use the following structures:
    suggest that somebody do something
    • He suggested that we go (NOT suggested us to go) for a drink. You can miss out 'that'
    • What do you suggest we do (NOT suggest us to do)?
    suggest doing something
    • I suggest wearing (NOT suggest to wear) something warm.
    suggest something
    • She suggested a walk before dinner.


    I don't understand why it is ungrammatical to say "suggest to do something". I would regard the infinitive "to do something" as a object (noun phrase), similar to the "wearing "(gerund used as a noun) or "a walk"(noun).

    Can you guys "suggest" any reasons behind?
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2009
  2. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    Verbs vary greatly in what kind of complements they take. 'Suggest' takes the ones listed, but not an infinitive clause. A clause isn't a noun phrase, it's a completely different structure.

    suggest that somebody do something: the complement is a subjunctive that-clause.

    suggest doing something: the complement is a gerund-participial clause. It's not a noun phrase: the gerund-participle is a verb, not a noun, as you can tell by the fact that it can take an object ('suggest wearing a jumper')

    :cross: suggest (somebody) to do something: the (second) complement is a to-infinitival clause, which is an entirely different structure from any of the other three.

    The fact that you can say, for example, 'I want it' and also 'I want you to go' doesn't mean that 'it' and 'you to go' have any structural similarity - it means rather that 'want' can take several different structures.
     
  3. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    A small aside ...
    ... you can suggest someone to do something, but it is important to be clear about the meaning.

    I suggest Bill to play the part of Hamlet.
    If I say that, I am suggesting to someone else, not Bill, that Bill should play Hamlet.

    I mention this because it arose in another recent thread about suggest ... which I can't find just at the moment.
     
  4. ptetpe Member

    Mandarin
    As a suasive verb, suggest can take noun+infinitive construction as an alternative to the that-clause (Quirk, p.1182). However, in

    I suggest Bill to play the part of Hamlet.

    the infinitive clause "to play the part of Hamlet" acts as predication adjunct (Quirk,p.1202), not noun phrase as you would regard, and you can't leave out the noun "Bill" by saying
    * I suggest to play the part of hamlet.

    Source: CGEL by Quirk et al.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2009
  5. ray8838 Senior Member

    CHINA
    Chinese--Hong Kong
    entangledbank,

    I am afraid I can't share your opinion.

    To my understanding, a clause is a complete sentence (subject +verb), while a phrase is NOT a complete sentence (normally a preposition followed by noun(s). But both clause and phrase can function as an adverb , an adjective, a subject or an object. When they act as a subject or an object, they are noun clause or phrase (noun equivalent)

    Gerund is also a noun equivalent. As gerund emerges from an verb, it has the characteristics of an verb and can carry an object. But the basic nature is a noun (or a noun equivalent)

    So, when I say "I suggest something",

    something is a noun. But a noun may take different formats, i.e. phrase, gerund, or a clause. But whatever formats it takes, it is a noun or noun equivalent.


    My question here is that:

    While "something" may take the forms of clause (that....) or gerund, why can't it take the form of noun phrase (infinitive), given all of them are noun equivalent?
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2009
  6. ray8838 Senior Member

    CHINA
    Chinese--Hong Kong
    I suggest Bill to play the part of Hamlet

    = I suggest something

    so, something=Bill to play the part of Hamlet

    In this case , Bill is an object (noun) and "to play the part of Hamlet" is an infinitive acting as an adjective to modify Bill.

    panjandrum, I agree with you that it is grammatical to say like that, but the Longman Dictionary says it is ungrammatical. This is the matter puzzling me.



     
  7. ray8838 Senior Member

    CHINA
    Chinese--Hong Kong
    I suggest something.

    If, something="to play the part of hamlet"
    "to play the part of hamlet" is an infinitve acting as a object (a noun phrase or a noun equivalent)


    If, something= Bill to play the part of Hamlet

    As I mentioned in the above thread, "Bill" is an object (noun) while "to play the part of Hamlet" is infinitive acting as an adjective to modify "Bill".
     
  8. vincix

    vincix Senior Member

    Romanian
    This I found on a Guardian article (http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/nov/06/jose-mourinho-stadium-ban-chelsea-fa-reasons):
    Do "to + pronoun" + a "that" clause normally work after "suggest" if a person suggests something to that person (to that pronoun)?

    (for the record, I'm not mixing up the infinitive "to" with the preposition "to", so that's not what I'm trying to figure out.)

    So can you say, "I suggested to him that he shouldn't do it"?

    The reason why I'm asking is that the example from The Guardian seems to be different. It's a different use of "suggest", it would mean "appears", "seem", etc.
     
  9. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    The object of suggest is the idea or proposal. Optionally, you can indicate the recipient of the idea with to.
    - I suggested a walk in the park (to my wife).
    - I suggested Tom as Hamlet (to the director).
    - I suggested Tom to play Hamlet (to the director).
    - I suggested to Fred that a fine was not enough.
     
  10. NevenaT

    NevenaT Senior Member

    Belgrade
    Serbian/Croatian
    Can you say: "I suggest Bill playing the part of Hamlet", that is using the participle phrase instead of the infinitive phrase?
     
  11. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    No, sorry.
     
  12. NevenaT

    NevenaT Senior Member

    Belgrade
    Serbian/Croatian
    @Loob I hope I'm not boring, but I'm really curious about this.
    If someone asks "Who do you suggest for the part of Hamlet?", can you answer: "I suggest Bill."?

    If the answer is positive, then why couldn't you say "I suggest Bill playing the part of Hamlet"?

    In that sentence the participle phrase is just used as a modifier of a noun phrase "Bill playing the part of Hamlet", it functions basically as an adjective, nothing more.
    I have no idea, it just seems grammatical. I hope someone can explain.

    I know for certain that you can use a gerund phrase (according to the Cambridge Dictionary), so I guess you can also say:
    "I suggest Bill's playing the part of Hamlet."


    Am I wrong?

    Edited to add information.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  13. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I'm sorry, Nevena.
    I suggest Bill playing the part of Hamlet.:cross:
    I suggest Bill's playing the part of Hamlet.:cross:

    The ING-form would be OK with another verb:
    I remember Bill playing the part of Hamlet.
    [less likely] I remember Bill's playing the part of Hamlet.
     
  14. NevenaT

    NevenaT Senior Member

    Belgrade
    Serbian/Croatian
    Well that's not really any useful advice since remember can be used with both infinitive and gerund and has different meanings.

    Take a look at this link, you'll find that Cambridge allows the use of -ing with suggest.
    I'd like someone else's opinion on this if it's possible.
    Suggest - English Grammar Today - Cambridge Dictionary
     
  15. NevenaT

    NevenaT Senior Member

    Belgrade
    Serbian/Croatian
    I don't think that Bill playing/Bill's playing is correct, I don't about that, I'm asking why since you can definitely say 'I suggest going somewhere for a tea'.
     
  16. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    We can say I suggested Bill play Hamlet.

    Play is not an infinitive in such a sentence, but a subjunctive, that is assumed after suggested.


    The construction would be unusual, in my experience, after the present of suggest.
     
  17. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    London
    British English
    From the Cambridge link above.
    This makes it clear that the participle/verbal noun can't be used when another person is the subject of the subsidiary clause, in this case, Bill. In other words when the subject is the same as the main clause, then -ing can be used.

    'I suggest going home early' = 'I suggest we go home early'.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  18. NevenaT

    NevenaT Senior Member

    Belgrade
    Serbian/Croatian
  19. Ivan_I Senior Member

    Russian
    Is it also wrong to say:

    1 I suggest your going there.

    How about this one?

    2 I suggest something for you to do.
     
  20. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    I can't imagine ever saying either of these sentences myself. Is this what you mean by "wrong"?
     
  21. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    1 I suggest your going there. -> correct but very formal.

    How about this one?

    2 I suggest something for you to do. -> possible but only in restricted contexts: do not use this generally.
     
  22. NevenaT

    NevenaT Senior Member

    Belgrade
    Serbian/Croatian
    @PaulQ Would that make "I suggest Bill's going there" correct too, because Bill's is also a possessive?
     
  23. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    Yes, it would.
     
  24. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    There's a false premise here.

    I don't think anything would make 'I suggest Bill's going there' right, as a way of saying that I'm suggesting that Bill goes there.

    Loob told you this in post #13.

    I couldn't find an example of anything like it in the British Corpus.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
  25. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member

    France
    French
    In my understanding of English grammar, gerunds act as nouns. So, "I suggest Bill's playing the part of Hamlet" does not mean that you suggest Bill for the part of Hamlet. It means that you suggest [a noun]: you suggest Bill's performance as Hamlet. What do you suggest it for? We don't know.

    I suppose it might be correct in a different context. For example, "Whose performance do you suggest should be awarded at the festival?" — "I suggest Bill playing Hamlet in the new Broadway production should be awarded". Probably nowhere near as natural as "I suggest Bill's performance as Hamlet...", though.
     
  26. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    Do we award performances at a festival?

    If you mean Whose performance should be awarded the prize? Then you could say I suggest Bill's performance as Hamlet, but, of course, we are far now from the form of suggest we were discussing earlier.
     
  27. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member

    France
    French
    I probably should have written "rewarded".
    Yes, of course. I was really just trying to find a context where "I suggest Bill's playing...." might make some sense.
     
  28. NevenaT

    NevenaT Senior Member

    Belgrade
    Serbian/Croatian
    @Oddmania Yes, that's why I thought "Bill's playing" would also be correct, at least from a grammatical standpoint, because "playing" is a gerund, which is technically a noun.

    @Thomas Tompion Isn't it "suggest that Bill go there" since it's subjunctive?
     
  29. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    I'm afraid we don't reward prizes either. We award prizes for performances, and reward people with prizes.
    Note I was using the continuous present, and the indicative is idiomatic with the continuous present of suggest. To my ear the subjunctive would sound very pedantic in a case like this.

    So it's not the subjunctive, I'm afraid.

    (Remember I speak British English; an American might have different views about the subjunctive after suggest).
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
  30. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member

    France
    French
    That's not what I suggested, Thomas (I actually never mentioned the word prize). Do performances never get rewarded in English? "Whose performance do you think should be rewarded?".
     
  31. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    A; "We need someone to go to France and explain the situation."
    B: "I suggest Bill's going there - he speaks French." -> There is nothing grammatically wrong with this, although "I suggest that Bill should go there" would be far commoner.

    Compare:
    "His going to see the boss was a big mistake."

    It is.
     
  32. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    I'm sorry to have misunderstood you, Oddmania. Yes, we could say that, but I fear that "Whose performance do you suggest should be rewarded at the festival?" is not something I'd happily say.

    I worried also that people have been using constructions where to suggest means to recommend rather than to propose (indicate). Most of us have been considering cases where the suggestion is close to an order.
     
  33. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member

    France
    French
    I see. That's a fair point.
     
  34. Ivan_I Senior Member

    Russian
    I see two different points of view. I hope it's not a big deal to disagree as langauge is a complicated thing.

    I see Loob and TT don't approve of this pattern "suggest someone's doing" while PaulQ finds it acceptable.
     

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