Suggest vs Recommend – what’s the difference?

Suggest vs Recommend

When we talk to friends, family, or even at work, we often give advice or share our opinions. Two common words we use are “suggest” and “recommend.” They might seem similar, but they have small differences that can change what we mean. Let’s explore these differences in a way that’s easy to understand.

What Does “Suggest” Mean?

Imagine you have a friend who doesn’t know what to eat for dinner. If you say, “How about pizza?” you are using “suggest.” “Suggest” is like offering an idea or a possibility. It’s gentle, like giving an option without saying it’s the best one.

When to Use “Suggest”

  • Sharing Ideas: When you have an idea but you’re not sure it’s the best, you can “suggest” it. It’s like saying, “Here’s a thought, but you decide.”
  • Gentle Advice: If you want to give advice without sounding too strong or direct, “suggest” is a good word. It’s softer and leaves room for the other person to decide.
  • Offering Options: When there are many choices, and you want to add one more to the list, you “suggest” it.

What Does “Recommend” Mean?

Now, let’s say your friend wants to know the best place to get pizza. If you say, “You should try Mario’s Pizza; it’s great!” you are using “recommend.” “Recommend” is stronger than “suggest.” It’s like saying, “I think this is a good choice, and here’s why.” You use it when you believe something is good based on your experience.

When to Use “Recommend”

  • Based on Experience: When you’ve tried something and really think it’s good, you can “recommend” it. It’s like saying, “I’ve tried this, and it’s great.”
  • Professional Opinions: Experts often “recommend” things because they have special knowledge. Like a doctor might “recommend” a certain medicine because they know it works well.
  • Stronger Advice: If you feel more strongly about your suggestion, you use “recommend.” It shows you have more confidence in your suggestion.

Understanding the Difference

To really see the difference, think about a friend asking you about a book for their holiday. If you’ve heard about a book but haven’t read it, you might “suggest” it by saying, “I’ve heard ‘The Great Adventure’ is good.” But, if you’ve read a book and loved it, you’d “recommend” it, saying, “I highly recommend ‘The Sea and Stars’; it was fantastic.”

Examples to Understand Better

  • Suggest: “Why don’t we meet at the park?” It’s just an idea.
  • Recommend: “I highly recommend the chocolate cake at this cafe.” The person has probably tried the cake and really thinks you should try it too.

For more on subtle differences in English usage, you can check out our article on the [Difference between Whilst and While]

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