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Grammar Check: It's the Subjunctive

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

I recommend that you pay attention to your grammar in your TOEFL speaking and writing!

Here's one grammar tip for you.

Let's say you are writing about someone who gave you some advice last month.

You might summarize this by saying:

He recommended me to talk to the professor. (Incorrect.)

This is grammatically incorrect. Because of the word 'recommends,' we now have to use the subjunctive:

He recommended that I talk to the professor. (Correct!)

The subjunctive looks like this: verb + pronoun + base verb

"Suggest" is another verb that can be used in the subjunctive.

He suggested that I talk to the professor. (Correct!) verb (suggests) + pronoun (I) + base verb (talk)

It is a common mistake for students to say: They recommended me to talk to the professor. (Incorrect.)

They recommended that I talk to the professor. (Correct!)

There are other verbs that we use in the subjunctive. I won't list all the verbs here because there are so many. What is important is that if you choose to use "He suggests" or "She recommends" or "I recommend," you use the correct grammar.

More examples of how to use the subjunctive correctly:

They recommend that she speak to the professor.

You recommend that they ask the professor.

He recommended that you ask the professor.

He has recommended that Bob, Billy, and Joe study more.

She suggests that we talk to the professor.

She will suggest that he talk to the professor.

Remember, if you find the subjunctive difficult, you can choose not to use it. Here are other options that are correct to say:

He recommended talking to the professor. He gave me two solutions. First, I could talk to the professor. He thought I should talk to the professor. One solution was to talk to the professor.

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