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Learning English: Making suggestions (Must, Have to, Should etc)

Updated on February 4, 2016

Must / Have to / Need

Must/have to: We use must or have to when something is a very strong suggestion or recommendation. “You’re going to London? You must visit Tower Bridge!”

This is not obligation and is different to ‘you must be on time’.

To see the difference between obligation and recommendations using must / have to etc click here

Need: It is used to describe something that is a necessity and therefore becomes a very strong recommendation. “You need to visit Belo Horizonte, it’s amazing”

Should / Ought to / Second Conditional

‘Should/ought to’ are strong suggestions, yet not as emphatic or passionate as must/have to. ‘Ought to’ is a slightly more formal version of should and has the same meaning as should. ‘You should go to the louvre in Paris, it’s really cool’

*To make the recommendation more emphatic you can put really in front of the verbs. “You really must visit Tower Bridge”

Second Conditional: we use the second conditional to make suggestions using the structure ‘If I were you’ for example ‘If I were you, I would go to a football match in Brazil. You’ll really like it’

To see more about the second conditional click here

Negative suggestions

Don’t bother: To give a negative opinions we say don’t bother/don’t waste your time. ‘Don’t bother going to Stone Henge, it’s just rocks in a field’

Avoid: We use this to say stay away from ‘You should avoid trying to drive at 5pm in Sao Paulo, the traffic is awful.’

Giving Opinions

‘Believe, Think and Reckon’ (informal) are three verbs we use to give our opinion. Believe is more intense’ ‘I reckon you’ll like fish and chips’

Might/may: slightly weaker opinions we, use these to give an opinion on the persons interests and not as strong as will. “I think you might like fish and chips’ (this makes the opinion possible and not definite)


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