suggest and suggestions

Suggest – Learn How to use this Verb and Make Suggestions

Suggest is a tricky verb in English. We use it in lots of different grammatical structures, but there are some where we don’t use it as well.  For example, we might suggest doing something but we don’t say suggest to do or suggest me. These phrases are wrong.

Also when you want to make a suggestion, to sound natural, you might need to use a phrase without the verb suggest. Watch the video to see examples and avoid mistakes.

Click below to learn about some more useful verbs that are always or often followed by gerunds:
avoid and prevent
mind
try to do and try doing
stop to do and stop doing
be used to

‘Suggest’ video script

If you’re taking an exam like IELTS, TOEIC or TOEFL, this is a verb you’ll want to get right.

Where do you want to go for dinner tonight?
Why don’t we try the Chinese place?
Or how about Victor’s Bistro?
Good idea! Let’s book a table.

A lot of the time when we suggest things, we don’t use the verb ‘suggest’. We make suggestions with phrases like these instead.

Why don’t we try the Chinese place? Or how about Victor’s Bistro? Good idea! Let’s book a table.

Suggest’ is quite a formal word. We use it when we want to be explicit – so to be exact and clear that someone is making a suggestion.

What are you doing, Lola? Playing a game. I suggest you do your homework first, then play the game.
What are you doing, Lola? Playing a game. I suggest you do your homework first, then play the game.

How are we getting to the meeting? By car. You know, I’m worried about the traffic at that time of day.
Are you suggesting we take the train? Yes. OK. Vicki, can you book the tickets? Sure.
How are we getting to the meeting? By car. You know, I’m worried about the traffic at that time of day.
Are you suggesting we take the train? Yes. OK. Vicki, can you book the tickets? Sure.

There are a lot of mistakes in this report, Jay. Why don’t you do it again? Well, I could just change this and this. I suggest you do it again. Oh.
There are a lot of mistakes in this report, Jay. Why don’t you do it again? Well, I could just change this and this. I suggest you do it again. Oh.

We often use the word ‘suggest’ to report what someone said.

Hello? Oh hi, Jennifer.
Hey Jay. Can you send me that report?
I’m still working on it.
I thought you’d finished it.
Well Vicki suggested that I do it again.
Ah!

And here’s where it gets tricky. There are lots of different structures we can use to report what someone suggests.
All of these are correct. But there are structures that are wrong as well. Here are two mistakes you don’t want to make.
First, we don’t use an infinitive form after suggest. This is wrong.
Second, we can suggest something to someone, but we can’t suggest someone something.
These are the two mistakes students make most often, so let’s look at another example.

Or how about Victor’s Bistro? Good idea. Let’s book a table.

And don’t forget. When we make suggestions normally we don’t use the verb ‘suggest’. We use phrases like these.

OK, let’s open the office suggestion box.
Yeah!
Two suggestions!
That’s great.
Open the first one.
OK. ‘Why don’t we create a Facebook page for our company?’ I like this idea.
That’s a very good suggestion. Read the second one.
OK. ‘How about having casual dress days at the office every day of the week?’
Hmmm. That’s an interesting idea.
I wonder who suggested that.

Click here to watch this video with a clickable transcript
Click below to learn about some more useful verbs that are always or often followed by gerunds:
avoid and prevent
mind
try to do and try doing
stop to do and stop doing
be used to

Lay Lie – Lie Lay – What’s the difference?

Lay Lie – Lie Lay – What’s the difference?

Is it lay or lie? Even native English speakers sometimes have to think about this one, and sometimes they mix these verbs up. The two verbs mean different things, one takes and object and one doesn’t, and just to make things more tricky because the past tense of lie is lay.

Wow! That’s confusing, but we can help.


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Lay or Lie Video script

Native English speakers sometimes muddle these verbs up. Do you know the difference? Watch and see.

Um, so how old are you, Vicki?
I’m, umm… thirty two.
Really?

Lie’ has two meanings. If we lie we don’t tell the truth.

Can they help us?
No. What are we going to do?
I don’t know.
Is there a problem?
Oh no, no. We’re great.
You’re lying.
Yes. We’re lying.

In this meaning ‘lie’ is a regular verb: lie – lied – lied. Easy, huh? OK, let’s forget that meaning and look at another one.
This is Xsenia, and she’s lying down here. She’s in a horizontal or resting position.
This meaning is similar to the verb ‘lay’, but when we lay something we put it down.
Now here Xsenia is laying down Carter’s toys, placing them on the floor. So ‘lie’ means be horizontal and ‘lay’ means place something down.
So now it’s time for some grammar.

Are you OK?
No, I’ve got a headache.
Why don’t you go and lie down?

‘Lie’ is an intransitive verb and it has no object. We can lie on something. We can lie in something. We can lie under something, but we can’t lie something.
‘Lay’ is a transitive verbs so it has an object. We always lay something.
We can lay roads – build them by laying down asphalt. We can lay carpets – put them on the floor.
We can lay bricks to build walls. Birds lay eggs and then they sit on them till they hatch. In British English we lay the table.

Oh you’ve laid the table!
Thank you. In America we say set the table.
We can say that in British English too.

Hey! Stop that man. Put up your hands and lay down your weapon.

Now here’s a tip for when you’re not sure which verb to use. If you can also use the verb ‘place’ then the verb you need is ‘lay’.
So Jay lays his book on the couch – he places it there. Lay down your weapon – place it on the ground.
Now both of these verbs are irregular and here’s a tricky thing. Look at the past tense of ‘lie’. It’s lay. Urgh! Sometimes English is so confusing.
The good news is we rarely say ‘lain’ these days, so let’s forget about that. Trust me. You probably won’t need it.
Let’s start with ‘lie’ and we’ll look at these two verb forms first.

I’m tired. I think I’ll go and lie down. I didn’t sleep at all last night.
Really?
I lay awake all night.
I thought I heard you snoring.
Not me. It must have been Carter.

So ‘lie’ means be horizontal here, be in a resting position and the past form is lay. Now let’s look at two verb forms of ‘lay’.

Has the mail come?
Yes, I laid it on your desk.
Thank you.

Hey Vicki. Have you seen the dry cleaning?
Yes, I’ve laid it on the bed.
Ah, thank you.

So we have the past and the present perfect here and the verb form is laid in both tenses.
Now the most common mistake people make with these two verbs is they say ‘laying’ when they mean ‘lying’.
If something is just sitting somewhere, use the verb ‘lie’. Here are some examples.
After you have laid a book on the couch – placed it there – then it’s lying there, not laying there.

Have you seen my book?
I think I saw it lying on the couch.
Oh, thank you. Now how did it get there?

So is Jay lying or laying on the sofa here? Well first he lays down on the sofa – places himself there. But now he’s just lying down. He’s in a horizontal position, at rest.
If you see something lying on the ground, it’s just sitting or resting there. It’s only laying there if it’s doing something else, like it’s a chicken that’s laying eggs or something.
And that’s it. That’s the difference between ‘lie’ and ‘lay’. Now don’t forget, the past tense of ‘lie’ is lay.

We’re just back from holiday where I got a wonderful suntan. Unfortunately Jay lay in the sun too long.

Click here to see this video with a clickable transcript
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ed ing adjectives

ed and ing adjectives – Interested and Interesting

Some English adjectives have two forms, so they can end with ed and ing. The endings determine their meaning. For example, we use interested to say how we feel and interesting to describe the person or thing that causes the feeling.
Watch this video to learn about ing and ed adjectives and avoid a very common mistake.

ed and ing adjectives video script

Click here to see more grammar videos

This is a very interesting book.
Uhuh.
And I’m very interesting in this book.
What?
This is a book about me!

There’s a mistake my students sometimes make that can be funny, or kind of embarrassing. So I’ve asked along an embarrassing version of myself to demonstrate.

I’m very interesting. Ooooo. Did I say that? How embarrassing!

What I could say is ‘I’m very interested’. ‘Interesting’ and ‘interested’ are both adjectives, so what’s the difference?

This baseball game is really interesting.

We use ‘interested’ to say how we feel. We use ‘interesting’ to describe the person or thing that causes the feeling. So an interesting speaker, an interesting creature, an interesting book.
Notice that ‘interesting’ doesn’t mean important or big. It can in some languages, but not English. Very interesting. We can be interested in a business proposition.

This is our first new product. What do you think?
No, sorry. Not interested.
OK, we also have this.
No, not interested.
How about this?
No, he’s definitely not interested.
Do you have any balls?
What?

I’ll offer you two a business proposition.
We’re not interested.
Well, you’ll be interested. Now, you’re a smart young man.
Don’t listen to him, Bruce.

Now something else. There are other adjectives that follow a similar pattern. Let’s look at one.

I’m very interesting. Ooooo. Did I say that? How embarrassing!

The mistake was embarrassing, so it made me feel embarrassed. Embarrassing’ describes the mistake. ‘Embarrassed’ describes how I felt. Let’s look at some more adjectives that follow the same pattern. See if you can spot them.

Will you stop doing that?
Doing what?
That. It’s very annoying.

Sorry I’m late. Let’s get started. Is Jay sleeping?
Sorry, Rachel, he had a very tiring morning.
I’m not tired. I was just thinking.
He thinks with his eyes shut.

Emily, do you know how to drive?
No, ma’am. Isn’t it exciting!

OK, Jay. Pick a card. Remember it. Right, Jase. Shuffle the cards. OK.
Jay, your card is the top card.
What? No way! That’s amazing!
Really?
Yeah.
How did you do that? I’m amazed.
Here they are again.

Will you stop doing that? Doing what? That. It’s very annoying.
He had a very tiring morning. I’m not tired. I was just thinking.
Isn’t it exciting! Jay, your card is the top card. What? No way! That’s amazing!
Really? Yeah. How did you do that? I’m amazed.

Click here to see this video with a clickable transcript.
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for during or for

For and During – English time prepositions

We use both for and during to talk about time in English. So when do we say for and when do we say during? Learn the different meanings and uses of these prepositions in this video.

Click here to learn how we use the prepositions for and to to talk about purpose
Click here to learn how we use the time prepositions for and since
Click here to learn how to use the time prepositions by and until
Click here to see more grammar videos

For and During video script

We went to the cinema last night.
It was great.
Jay’s phone rang during the movie.
It was only for a couple of seconds before I turned it off. It rang twice.

We use both of these prepositions to talk about time.

How do you turn this microphone on?
Like this.
Ah, thank you.
How long is your presentation?
I’ll speak for about three hours.
Ooo, three hours. And will you be taking questions during the talk?
No.
Ah.

During’ tells us when something happens, but it doesn’t tell us how long it happens. We use ‘for’ for that.

I’ll speak for about three hours. I won’t take questions during the presentation.

We use ‘during’ with nouns. We use ‘for’ with periods of time.

People are still cleaning up from Hurricane Delores last week.
DECO Energy reports two hundred thousand homes lost power during the hurricane.
Homes along the coast have been without electricity for a week.

During – when something happens.

Two hundred thousand homes lost power during the hurricane.

For – how long it lasts or continues.

Homes along the coast have been without electricity for a week.

This is the final boarding call for flight 7654 with services to….
Hey Vicki.
Yeah?
Could you put this in your bag?
I’ll try.
I want to sleep during the flight.
Uhuh.
Oh and could you put this in your bag?
OK, but you can’t use it during take off and landing.
I know, so could you put this in your bag?
Jay. It’s a short flight. We’ll only be in the air for forty minutes.

Click here to see this video with a clickable transcript
Click here to learn how we use the prepositions for and to to talk about purpose
Click here to learn how we use the time prepositions for and since
Click here to learn how to use the time prepositions by and until
Click here to see more grammar videos

used to be used to get used to

Used to do, Be Used to something and Get Used to something

Used to – this can be a confusing structure in English.
We can use it to talk about past habits, and then we follow it with a verb. (used to do)
And we can also follow it with a noun, and then it means ‘accustomed to’. (be used to something)  Similarly we can say get used to and that to means growing or becoming accustomed to something.
Notice it’s be used to something. That something is a noun. If you want to put a verb there, you’ll need to use a gerund – so a noun form of a verb. (be/get used to doing something)
Watch the video to see lots of examples.

Used to and Be used to video script

Where are the tomatoes?
You mean the tomatoes.
He’s still getting used to my accent.

I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
I used to live in Cambridge in England.
And I used to live in New York, but now we both live in Philadelphia.
It’s a great city.

Used to do: things that were true in the past, but not true now. So use ‘used to’ to talk about past habits.

When I was a kid, I used to play baseball. I loved it.
We didn’t play baseball in England, but my brothers used to play cricket.

Jay, try some of this.
What is it?
Marmite.
We used to eat it all the time when I was growing up in England.

Now, here’s the tricky thing. We also use ‘used to’ in another expression.
When we’re accustomed to something, we say we are used to it.

Can you pass the sellotape?
Huh?
She means the scotch tape.
Ah, it’s British English.
Yeah, I’m used to it now.

Ah, it’s British English.
Yeah, I’m used to it now.

Notice we use the verb ‘be’ here. We can also use the verb ‘get’, and that means growing accustomed to something.

Hey Jay, look at this.
I’ve got new glasses.
He’s still getting used to them.
Ah!

Have some more marmite Jay.
No thank you.
It’s nice when you get used to it.

OK, let’s compare the two structures. In England, people drive on the left hand side of the road. So I used to drive on the left when I lived there.
But now I live in the US, where people drive on the right. It was strange at first, and I had to get used to it.

I’m used to driving on the right side now.
Ah, but sometimes you forget and get in on the wrong side.
OK. I’m getting used to driving on the right – growing accustomed to it.

Just one more thing. ‘Used to’ is followed by a verb. ‘Be used to’ is followed by a noun.
So if you want to use a verb after ‘be used to’, you have to use a gerund, a noun form of the verb.

Coffee?
Oh, yes please.
Thank you.
Sure.
I’m used to drinking coffee in the mornings now. In England I used to drink tea.

Do you think we could sell marmite to Americans, Jay?
Americans are used to putting peanut butter and jelly on their bread. And butter.
Butter.
Butter.
Butter.
Butter.
Butter.
Butter.
Butter.

Click here to watch this video with a clickable transcript.

just in case

If and In Case (English Conditionals)

We can use if and in case to talk about future possibilities. If is about what might happen. In case is about precautions that we take now to avoid problems in the future. See examples and learn the difference in this video.

Click here to learn about the verbs avoid and prevent
Click here to see more grammar videos

If and In Case Video Script

You shouldn’t put the knives in that way.
It’ll be all right.
Someone will cut themselves if you put them in like that.
No they won’t. Ow!
Luckily I put some plasters here in case there was an accident.
Thank you.

We use ‘if’ and ‘in case’ to talk about future possibilities. But they mean different things.

Are we driving to New York tomorrow?
I don’t know. We might have to.
We need to fill the car with petrol if we do.
We can do that in the morning.
OK.

Are we driving to New York tomorrow?
I don’t know. We might have to.
I’ll fill the car with petrol now, in case we do. See you later.

‘If’ is about things we’ll do later, if something else happens.
‘In’ case’ is about things we do now, so we’re ready for something that might happen in the future.
So ‘in case’ is useful for talking about precautions, when we try to avoid problems in the future.

Ow!
Luckily, I put some plasters here in case there was an accident.

Oh! Are you going out?
Yeah.
Take your phone in case I need to call you.
OK.
Err, and take your keys. Just in case I’m not here when you get back.
OK.
And take your unbrella, just in case it should rain.
I’m only going next door.
Oh!

Notice the forms we use: simple present, simple past, and ‘should’.
But we don’t use ‘will’ and we don’t use ‘would’. These phrases are wrong.

Why not write that down, just in case you forget?

This is my wife’s idea, and I must say I think it’s rather dangerous.
I suppose you all know how to use one of these things, but in case you don’t…
You just press down on this lever with your thumb and then pull the trigger.

Click here to watch this video with a clickable transcript
Click here to learn about the verbs avoid and prevent
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present simple tense

The Present Simple Tense – Carter’s breakfast routine

We use the Simple Present tense more than any other tense in English.
One way we use it is to describe routine actions and things we do regularly.  Let Carter (the dog with human hands) show you how it works. Listen to him describe his breakfast routine and you’ll hear lots of examples.
Notice we form negatives with do and not. (I don’t drink coffee. I don’t need a napkin.)

Click here to learn English adverbs of frequency with Carter
Click here to see Carter ordering food in a restaurant
Click here to see more grammar videos.

Carter’s breakfast routine video script

It’s breakfast time!
I don’t drink coffee. I drink tea.
I read the newspaper.
Then I plan my day.
I check the weather.
It’s going to be sunny today. Yay! That’s terrific!
Next I have some milk and cereal.
More please. It’s great.
Then I call Trixie.
Hey Trixie. What are we doing today?
You’re busy? With Rover? Hmph!
I eat my toast with honey. Lots of honey. Lots and lots of honey.
Napkin? I don’t need a napkin.
I finish with a banana.
It’s delicious.
How do you start your day?

Click here to see this video with a clickable transcript
Click here to learn English adverbs of frequency with Carter
Click here to see Carter ordering food in a restaurant
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‘Turn it on’ and other common separable phrasal verbs

‘Turn it on’ and other common separable phrasal verbs

Many English phrasal verbs are separable. Separable means the verb and the other little word (the preposition or particle) can be separated.
This video’s about eight very common separable English phrasal verbs. Watch and learn how they work.

You can see these exact verbs used in rap which we recorded with Jason R Levine, Fluency MC. Click here to watch it.
Click here to see more English grammar videos.
Click here to see Vicki and Jay doing more cooking.

Separable Phrasal Verbs Video Script

Hi Jason.
Hmmm?
I’m your surgeon.
My surgeon?
And this is your appendix.
My appendix?
We had to take it out.

We’re making smoothies with our blender.
We’ve put pineapple in.
And strawberries. Another strawberry?
Yes, put it in.
And banana.
Banana’s fattening.
Now we’re going to turn on the blender and make a smoothie.
Wait. Don’t turn it on yet. I’m going to put in some spinach.
Spinach! Take it out.
No, it’s good for you.
OK.
Turn it on.
Spinach?
I’ll turn it on.
I think you can turn it off.
OK, Jay. It’s a green smoothie. What do you think?
Mmmm. It’s not bad.
And it’s good for us.

Another strawberry? Yes, put it in.
I’m going to put in some spinach. Spinach! Take it out. Spinach?
I’ll turn it on. I think you can turn it off.

Many English verbs have two parts: a verb and another small word.
We can say ‘put the strawberry in’ and ‘put in the strawberry.’ But notice what happens if we sat ‘it’.
Put it in. We can’t say ‘put in it’. This is wrong.
We can say ‘turn the blender on’, ‘turn on the blender’, turn it on. But we can’t say ‘turn on it.’
There are lots more verbs like this. Let’s look at some.

We’re going out tonight. I’ll wear my new bow tie. I’ll put it on.
What are you wearing?
That’s my new bow tie. Don’t you like it?
Take it off and put a proper tie on.

Here’s that video. Can you hear it?
No.
I’ll turn it up.

Ahhh. Yeah, turn this up. Turning it down.

Is that your jacket on the floor?
Yes.
Well, pick it up.

Where’s my hairspray. I thought I put it down here.

Click here to watch this video with a clickable transcript
You can see these exact verbs used in rap which we recorded with Jason R Levine, Fluency MC. Click here to watch it.
Click here to see more English grammar videos.
Click here to see Vicki and Jay doing more cooking.

indirect questions

Indirect Questions and Embedded Questions

Indirect questions (sometimes called embedded questions) are useful things to know. We often use them when we’re talking to strangers and we want to be polite. But they can be tricky because of the word order. In this video you’ll learn how direct and indirect questions operate differently and find out how to avoid some common mistakes.

Click here to learn about another way we’re indirect in English, when we want to drop hints.
Click here to see more grammar videos.

Indirect questions video

Do you know where I am?
Yes I know where you are.
Well, where am I?
You are at 19th and Arch.
No I’m not.
No comment.
I want to throw you in the river!
OK. The nearest river is at 17th and Arch.
No it’s not!

Where’s the Regional Rail line?

This lesson is about how to ask strangers for help. Polite questions you can ask when you need information.

Where’s the Regional Rail line? Excuse me, can you tell me where the Regional Rail line is?
Yeah, it’s that way.
Oh, thank you.

You heard two different questions. Did you catch them? Now, the first question is straight forward. You’ve got ‘where’ and then the verb ‘be.’ But look at the second one. The verb ‘be’ is at the end. Let’s look at another one.

Where is room 401? Excuse me, could you tell me where room 401 is?
Why certainly m ‘am. Just walk this way. Thank you.

‘Could you tell me…’ That one’s an embedded question; a question inside another question. The ending has the same word order as a statement. We often use these embedded questions with strangers when we’re asking for information and we want to be polite. Now, we’ve looked at questions with the verb ‘be’. But what about other verbs?

Can you tell me when the next train to Boston leaves?
8:35

Could you tell me how much a one-way ticket to Washington costs?
51 dollars.

The word order changes in these questions too. ‘Can you tell me…’ forms the question. And then after that, it’s like a statement. The auxiliary verb disappears, and the third person ‘s’ returns.

Can you tell me when the next train to Boston leaves?
Could you tell me how much a one-way ticket to Washington costs?

Now, something else.

Do you know if the train to New York is on time?
Yeah, it is.

If it’s a question with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, use the word ‘if.’

Do you know if there’s a restaurant car on this train?
No, there isn’t.

You can use use the word ‘whether’ in the same way as ‘if.’ Now, here’s a mistake a lot of students make. They’ll form a normal question after a phrase like ‘Can you tell me… ” or “Do you know… .” That’s wrong. Don’t do that.

Do you know if the train to New York is on time?
Yeah, it is.

Do you know if there’s a restaurant car on this train?
No, there isn’t.

And one last thing. We generally only use embedded questions at the start of a conversation.

Can you tell me when the next train to Boston leaves?
8:35
And what time does it get there?

Uh, excuse me. Could you tell me where room 401 is?
Why certainly m ‘am. Just walk this way.

Click here to see this video with a clickable transcript
Click here to learn about another way we’re indirect, when we want to drop hints.
Click here
to see more grammar videos.

get have something done

Have Something Done – Have and Get as Passive Causative Verbs

To have something done – this is a common structure we use to talk about actions where someone performs a service for us.

In this video you’ll learn how the structure works and how to use have and get in the passive as causative verbs – verbs that indicate one thing causes another.


Click here to learn more about causative verbs.

Have something done video script

There are two ways to clean your kitchen floor. One is to clean it yourself. And the other is to have it cleaned for you. We can clean our teeth ourselves, but we can also go to the dentists to have them cleaned. Someone else performs the service. It’s the same with your hair. You can do it yourself, or you can go to the hairdressers and have it done for you.
So let’s look at these structures: doing it yourself, having it done for you. We’ve got the verb ‘have’, the object, and then the third part of the verb. You can change ‘have’ to whatever tense you need. Don’t confuse this structure with the present perfect. What’s happening here is we’re talking about a service that someone else is performing for us. And something else. In spoken English, we often use ‘get’ instead of ‘have’. It means the same thing. Let’s look at some more examples. Ready?

I’m getting hungry.
Are you? What shall we have for lunch?
Let’s get a pizza delivered.
Love it! Good idea!

Sorry, it’s hard to hear you. We’re having some work done on our heating system.

Carter’s dirty, Jay. Are you going to give him a bath?
I think I’ll take him to the pet store and have him washed.
Hmph!

Jay, there are nearly fifty thousand miles on the clock.
I know, we have to get it serviced.
Yeah.

Do you have the contract?
Yes.
What does it say?
I don’t know. It’s in Hungarian.
Then we need to get it translated.

It’s my mother’s birthday next week.
Oh. Shall we get some flowers delivered?
Good idea.

What time is it?
It’s time you got that watch repaired. Three o’clock.

Did you spot them all? Let’s review.

Let’s get a pizza delivered. Love it! Good idea!
We’re having some work done on our heating system.
I think I’ll take him to the pet store and have him washed.
I know, we have to get it serviced. Yeah.
Then we need to get it translated.
Oh. Shall we get some flowers delivered?
It’s time you got that watch repaired.
There are two ways to clean your kitchen floor. One is to clean it yourself.
And the other is to have it cleaned for you. You missed a bit.

Click here to watch this video with a clickable transcript.
Click here to learn more about causative verbs.
Click here to see more grammar videos.