In this lesson, you’ll how to use verbs of suggestion and adjectives of importance with the subjunctive in that-clauses.
These verbs and expressions are used to give strong or urgent recommendations, often in the workplace or at school or university.
These recommendations often come from a person of authority, such as a manager, executive, professor, teacher, police officer, elected representative, or doctor. (Or even a parent talking to a child!)
You should use these verbs of suggestions and adjective phrases to show the importance of your recommendations without giving a direct command.
(A direct command would look like this: “Write the finance report immediately.”)
Giving a direct command can sound too forceful or bossy, which means your listener might not receive your recommendation well.
Instead, you need to create a little more distance in the way you speak.
How to Express Power, Urgency, and Importance Politely
Using these verbs of suggestion and recommendation enables you to express power, importance, and urgency in a diplomatic, tactful way.
Similarly, these adjective phrases clearly communicate that what you are about to suggest is of utmost importance without sounding like you are ordering your colleagues, students around.
These verbs or verb phrases help you sound more professional and polite when giving suggestions or recommendations, and that’s why it’s so important that you learn how to use them correctly.
(Did you see what I did there? I used the subjunctive!)
How to Use the Subjunctive in That-Clauses
For speakers of Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and other Romance languages, the subjunctive is a familiar grammar form.
In English, the subjunctive mood is less common but is always used with these verbs and adjective phrases.
It is an advanced grammar concept that many fluent English speakers still need to practice using correctly.
The subjunctive in English works as follows:
suggestion verb (or adjective phrase) + (that) + noun + base form of the verb
In this grammar structure, “that” is optional and can be used for emphasis.
The base form of the verb always follows these verbs and adjective phrases. The base form of the verb does not have “to” or “-ing.” It does not use -s and it does not change based on the verb tense used with the suggestion. You always use the base form with the subjunctive!
Here are some examples:
- I ask that you listen carefully to what I am about to say.
- She recommended that he call their client immediately.
- We insist you arrive on time to work.
- It is crucial that we be informed as soon as you finish.
- I suggest you practice your English each day!
In each of these examples, the base form of the verb is marked in bold.
As you can see from the second example, the verb “recommend” is in the past tense – but the subjunctive in the that-clause does not change.
It is always the base form!
Verbs of Suggestion and Recommendation
Here are the most common verbs of suggestion. There are others, but they are not commonly used in American English – and my goal is to help you sound more natural!
- to advise (that)
- to ask (that)
- to demand (that)
- to forbid (that)
- to insist (that)
- to propose (that)
- to recommend (that)
- to request (that)
- to require (that)
- to suggest (that)
Adjectives of Importance
- it is best (that)
- it is critical (that)
- it is crucial (that)
- it is desirable (that)
- it is essential (that)
- it is imperative (that)
- it is important (that)
- it is necessary (that)
- it is vital (that)
It is important that you study the subjunctive carefully. I also recommend that you learn how to use this grammar structure today – it’s another easy way to sound more natural in English!
Leave a comment below using one of the verbs of suggestion and one of the adjectives of importance. I’ll let you know if you’ve got it right!
For more suggestions, check out my series of articles and video lessons on how to sound more polite.