Giving Advice



In today's free English lesson, we look at different ways to give advice in English. 

1) Should

The most common way to give advice is to use 'should'. 'Should' is a true modal helping verb so it is always followed by the base form of the verb and stays the same for all persons.

Johnny: I don't feel very well.
Suzy: You should go see the doctor. 

Max: My brother can't find a job. 
Tom: He should apply at my company. We have a lot of vacancies at the moment. 

Robert: My wife is bored at home. What do you think I should do?
Lucy: You should tell her to get a hobby or a job. 

Chris: You shouldn't eat a lot of sweet food. It's bad for your health. 
John: I don't eat a lot of sweet food. My problem is bread. I know I shouldn't eat a lot bread, but I just can't help myself.

2) Had Better

We can also use 'had better' to give advice. Both 'had better' and 'had better not' are followed by the base form of the verb and stay the same for all persons. We usually use these forms when we speak. We also prefer to use the contracted form.

Tommy: My new TV doesn't work.
John: You'd better take it back to the shop so that it can be repaired.
Sarah: It looks like Max broke his leg. 
Suzy: We'd better take him to the hospital ASAP.

Kevin: My sister is furious with me. 
Chad: You'd better not talk to her for the rest of the day.

Bridget: That girl is so rude to the teachers.
Chandler: She'd better watch out for Mr. Hendel. He doesn't stand for that sort of behaviour. 

3) If I were you...

We also use the second conditional when giving advice. We often use this in spoken English. 

If I were ..., I would....
If I were ...., I would not...

I would (and the contraction I'd) is followed by the base form of the verb. I would not (and the contraction I wouldn't) is also followed by the base form of the verb.

Nicole: I can't make out the words. The letters are too small. 
Sammy: If I were you, I'd go see an optician. 

Cate: John just called to say he can't find his mobile phone.
Meryl: If I were him, I'd look in the bathroom. He's always leaving it there. 

Lemon: Helen is not sure if she should get married to Mark.
Mary: If I were her, I wouldn't do that! Mark doesn't seem like a faithful person.

Philip: My children are not happy with their new Maths teacher. 
Mary: If I were them, I would try to get along with her. She's new, but she's a very good teacher. 

4) Ought

We can use 'ought' to give advice. You can see more information about that in my lesson on 'ought'.

Lesson Vocabulary

apply (verb) = to request something officially e.g. apply for gym membership, apply for a job, apply for sick leave, etc. It usually means that you have to write a letter or complete a form in order to request something.

vacancy (noun) = a job opening i.e. a job that is available for someone to do

ASAP (acronym) = as soon as possible 

optician (noun - UK) / optometrist (noun - US) 

bathroom (compound noun)
Exercise

Your turn! Try and give advice for the following problems using the structures from the lesson:

1) Max is overweight.
2) Suzy has the flu.
3) They are cold. 
4) The washing machine is broken. 

Please leave your answer in the comments section and I will gladly give you some feedback. 

4 comments:

mt203948 said...

1- Max is overweight. He should go on a diet and practice more physical activities.
2- Suzy has a flu. If I were her, I would go see a doctor and take some days off.
3- They are cold. They had better to come back home and drink a cup of lemon tea.
4- The washing machine is broken. You ought call a technician so that he could repair it as soon as possible.

Francois Oosthuizen said...

Thanks for doing the exercise, mt203948!

Here are my suggestions:

1. It is better to say 'do more physical activities' than 'practice more physical activities'.
2. Suzy has a flu. If I were her, I would go see a doctor and take some days off. X
Suzy has the flu. If I were her, I would go see a doctor and take a few days off.
- You should use the definite article before the noun 'flu'.
- It is better to say 'a few days' than 'some days'.
3. They had better to come back home and drink a cup of lemon tea. X
They had better come back home and drink some lemon tea.
-'Had better' should be followed by the base form of the verb.
- It is better to use 'some' here because we can assume that they will not share a cup of tea. :-)
4. 'Ought' should be followed by the infinitive (i.e. to call).

Karenina said...

Max is overweight.
He had better not to take dinner.

Suzy has the flu.
She should go see the doctor.

They are cold.
If I were them, I would bring a thick jacket.

The washing machine is broken.
You had better call the technician to repair it.

Francois Oosthuizen said...

Thank you for your answers, Karenina!

Here are my suggestions:

He had better not to take dinner. X
He had better not have dinner.
- You should use the base form after 'had better not'.
- common collocations: have breakfast, have lunch, have dinner, etc.

If I were them, I would bring a thick jacket. X
If I were them, I would wear a thick jacket.
- The verb 'wear' more accurately describes what you want to say.

Post a Comment