Grammar. 30.11.2010
Grammar Teacher

Giving advice

Автор: Grammar Teacher

Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't.

Erica Jong

Сьогодні я подумала про те, як рідко насправді я звертаюсь до когось за порадою. Чи свідчить це про відсутність в моєму житті справжніх авторитетів, а чи про цілковиту мою самостійність у прийнятті рішень? Ні ж бо! Авторитети є, і не така вже зрештою я самостійна, якщо досі не знаю, де в моєму районі знаходиться «Ремонт взуття». Що ж тоді? Я б не хотіла вдаватися тут до прийомів психологічного аналізу, хоча доцільність його очевидна. Єдине, що визнаю вже зараз, так це абсолютну безглуздість такої поведінки. Адже кожна надана нам порада – це додаткова опція, яка робить прийняття рішення відкритим ліберальним процесом. Інакше воно більше схоже на голосування КПРС з її одностайним «ЗА». Зрештою вислухати пораду не означає втілити її в життя, швидше розширити коло вибору.

How to ask for advice in English? There are certain phrases and formulas we can use:


  • What do you recommend me do about...?
  • What would you advice me to do?
  • What shall I do?
  • Do you have any suggestions?
  • What would you do about...?

E.g. What do you recommend us do about living in this tiny flat now that we’re having a baby?

Giving advice is a responsible act, but don’t you be afraid to take it on! You never know where your thoughts can lead you. Sometimes unexpectedly and to our own surprise we can give quite efficient and proper advice. But to do this we should definitely learn several different structures!


This is probably the most common of structures for giving advice. After should, and its negative - shouldn't - we use the base form of the infinitive of the verb:

You'll catch cold if you go out like that. I think you should take a hat.
We shouldn’t cheat .

It is common to use 'I think' and 'I don’t think' with should:

I think you should put the answers back
She doesn't think they should use them


This is the most formal of the structures used for giving advice, and so it isn't so common.
After ought, and its negative - ought not (oughtn't), we use the full infinitive of the verb:

You ought to contact the police
You ought not to cheat in exams

Had better

This structure is common in spoken English and it is usually used in the contracted form  - 'd better. After had better, and its negative - had better not, we use the base form of the infinitive of the verb:

You'd better return the answers to the lecturer
d better not tell anyone that you found them

We can use had better instead of should / ought to, especially in spoken English, to say that we think it would be sensible or advisable to do something in a particular situation. However, we don't use it to make general comments:

If you're not well, you should / ought to ask Ann to go instead, (or'd better ask...)
I don't think parents should / ought to give their children sweets, (not ...had better...)

If I were…

This version of the second conditional is often used to show how you would act in your partner’s position. It has some variations:



  • If I were you,
  • If I were in your position,
  • If I were in your shoes

E.g. If I were you \If I were in your shoes\ If I were in your position, I wouldn't work so hard.

There are also some specific patterns often used exactly for this purpose:



  • On no account should you…
  • You’d be crazy (not) to…
  • Why on earth don’t you…? ( very informal! )
  • I think you’d be well advised to… ( very formal )
  • I would advise you…
  • I would strongly advise you…
  • The best thing to do is…

What’s interesting is that should-statements are less common in informal situations than other patterns or strategies for giving advice or suggestions, and they convey much stronger authority and can be perceived as more face-threatening. So, for example, statements like the following can sound harsh or overly authoritative or direct:

You should make sure that each paragraph (or sentence) has only one clear main idea. 
You should be more specific.

I would recommend you to read the following mini-play where you can find a dozen of phrases to give advice. But first read this review.  



Ralph – the world famous actor;
Chuck – his driver and bodyguard;
Samuel Compton -his manager;
Mrs. Spencer - his lawyer;
Laurie Anderson –a film critic.

Scene 1

Ralph’s house in London

Chuck: Yes, boss?
Ralph: Have you seen this... in the morning paper?
Chuck: Let me see… ‘semi-literate’
(напівграмотний) )’half-wit’(дивакуватий) ‘least intelligent’…I don’t think he liked the film, boss.
Ralph: It’s Anderson again. I’m going down there to see him.

Chuck: Should I come with you, boss?
Ralph: What? Yes…get the car.
Chunk: If I were you, I’d punch him on the nose, boss.
Ralph: That’s what I’m going to do.
Chunk: You want to really show him this time.
Ralph: Well, let’s go then.
Chuck: Boss… don’t you think we’d better tell Sam first?
Ralph: Huh? Yeah, perhaps we should. Get him on the phone.

Scene 2

On the phone

Sam: Samuel Compton.
Ralph: Sam, it’s me…Ralph.
Sam: Oh, hi, Ralph. Did you see the paper?
Ralph: Yes. I’m going down to see Anderson now.
Sam: What? You’d better not, Ralph. Leave it.
Ralph: Did you see what he called me? ‘Semi-literate’…
Sam: He’s a critic, Ralph.
Ralph: That’s not criticism…it’s…it’s
libel (наклеп)! He’s not going to get away with it.
Sam: All right, Ralph. Calm down, Perhaps you ought to talk to a layer.
Ralph: A lawyer?
Sam: Mm. Maybe you could sue
(подавати в суд) him.
Ralph: I’ll sue him for every penny he’s got.

Sam: Yes, well…why don’t you just phone a lawyer? Go and have a talk about it…

Scene 3

A talk with a lawyer

Mrs. Spencer: Mr. James…do come in. Take a seat.
Ralph: Did Sam speak to you?
Mrs. Spencer: Yes, Mr. Compton showed me the review.
Ralph: I want to sue.
Mrs. Spencer: I would strongly advise you to think it over most carefully, Mr. James.
Ralph: I’ve though it over already.
Mrs. Spencer: The best thing you can do is to forget all about it.
Ralph: Look! You’re my lawyer, aren’t you? Sue him.
Mrs. Spencer: I don’t think we should, Mr. James. The review was in one newspaper…not a popular one, either. Very few people will read it, probably the rest of your fans read the more serious papers. If you sue, there’ll be a lot of bad publicity, bad publicity. You know the saying ‘mud sticks’
(бруд липне).
Ralph: But… it’s Anderson again! Do you remember what he wrote about my marriage last year?
Mrs. Spencer: But you may remember that his report was true, Mr. James. Really, I suggest you forget it.
Ralph: Well, I’ll just go down there and have a little talk with him.
Mrs. Spencer: I would recommend you not to do that, Mr. James. Really. My advice is to forget it


Finally, I’ve just remembered two love songs which are both right but contradict each other:

1) "Billie Jean" by MICHAEL JACKSON:
“So Take My Strong Advice, Just Remember To Always Think Twice…”

2) “Sugar baby love” by The Rubettes :
"People take my advice
If you love somebody
Don't think twice."

I wonder which one is right? What do you think???

And now you gotta smile:




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