Rachel suggested we GO/WENT to the cinema

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kuleshov

Senior Member
Spain Spanish
I've checked the previous threads on this topic and I still don't know whether to use only the infinitive or the past when you use suggest in the past in all resgisters.

The grammatical verb pattern is:

Suggest + (that) + subject + (should) + infinitive

The third edition of Michael Swan's Practical English Usage says:

Section 570 point 3a
Ordinary present and past tenses can be used:

Her uncle suggests that she gets a job in a bank.
He suggested that she got a job in a bank.


Then, in a previos section, Swan gives the following example:

Her uncle suggested (that) she (should) get a job in a bank.



So, both ways are correct when you use suggested. My question is: are the two ways interchangeable 100%? Or do you -as a native speaker- tend to use one way more frequently? My feeling -as a non native speaker- is that if we are talking about a past action, it's much more natural to use a past tense:

My parents suggested I studied journalism when I was 19. I wish I had paid heed to them.


Is ...My parents suggested I study journalism when I was 19. identical to the version with studied???

The same can be asked of Swan's examples in the present:

My uncle suggests she gets a job in a bank.
My uncle suggests (that) she (should) get a job in a bank.

Is the first one colloquial and the second one formal? Or are they 100% interchangeable?

Cheers
 
  • ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    As an American, I would say, "Rachel suggested we go to the cinema." I would say neither, "Rachel suggested we went to the cinema," nor, "Rachel suggested we should go to the cinema."

    Wait for British speakers' opinions.
     

    kuleshov

    Senior Member
    Spain Spanish
    Would you use this sentence if you were talking about the "completed" past? I mean:

    Rachel suggested we go to the cinema. But we went clubbing instead.

    Which is different from:

    "Rachel suggested we go to the cinema." "Why don't we go clubbing instead? We went to the cinema last week."
     

    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Would you use this sentence if you were talking about the "completed" past? I mean:

    Rachel suggested we go to the cinema. But we went clubbing instead.
    I would still say, "Rachel suggested we go to the cinema."

    This is an example of the English subjunctive.
     

    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American


    My parents suggested I studied journalism when I was 19. I wish I had paid heed to them.


    Is ...My parents suggested I study journalism when I was 19. identical to the version with studied???

    The same can be asked of Swan's examples in the present:

    My uncle suggests she gets a job in a bank.
    My uncle suggests (that) she (should) get a job in a bank.

    Is the first one colloquial and the second one formal? Or are they 100% interchangeable?

    Cheers


    I would say, "My uncle suggests that she get a job...". To be honest, it wouldn't even occur to me to use gets.

    To me, the first sentence about journalism means that your parents hinted that you studied journalism at the age of 19.

    Technically, your second sentence means that your parents suggested you study journalism when you turned 19. If you mean to say that you were 19 years old when your parents made the suggestion, you should write, "When I was 19, my parents suggested I study journalism."
     
    Last edited:

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, the subjunctive is more common in AE than BE. I would understand your sentence, 'My parents suggested I study journalism when I was 19', as having employed the subjunctive, and would be grammatical, although it sounds formal to me.

    The other two sentences are fine with me, and they are interchangeable.

    1. My uncle suggests she gets a job in a bank.
    2. My uncle suggests (that) she should get a job in a bank.
    The version with the subjunctive is:
    3. My uncle suggests she get a job in a bank.
    I don't use the subjunctive a lot and am more likely to say (1) or (2), maybe (2) more than (1).
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I could use all three. As a BrE speaker, the subjunctive clause 'she get a job' sounds rather formal to me, and it's the least likely to be used in conversation, though it certainly could be. Perhaps the modal 'she should get a job' is most likely.

    The finite construction (with tense agreement: 'suggests she gets' but 'suggested she got') is increasingly common, I think, but leads to ambiguity with some verbs:

    Her uncle insisted that she got a job. = (1) insisted that she should; (2) insisted that she in fact had done.

    'Suggest' is liable to this same ambiguity, more weakly:

    Her uncle suggested that she got a job. = (1) suggested that she should; (2) hinted/insinuated that she in fact had done. But (1) is much more likely (you'd need 'had got' to make meaning 2 clear).
     

    kuleshov

    Senior Member
    Spain Spanish
    So, using the subjuntive is always OK, at least in American English.

    Thanks a lot guys!!!
     
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