1. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    recommend somebody to do something?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by ohmyrichard, Sep 27, 2009.

    Hi,guys.

    In the CCTV International programme Rediscovering China of September 24, I heard the New Yorker host saying to a foreign interviewee at the beginning of the programme, "Would you recommend other people to come to Urumqi?" As I doubted the correctness of the sentence structure of "recommend somebody to do something", I consulted my physical Longman dictionary without any delay, but I got no such use at the entry "recommend". However, when I googled "recommend" afterwards, I got numerous search results like "We recommend you to come to our congress." The dictionary I am using is Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (1995 Edition). So, my question is: Do I need to get a new bigger dictionary right now?

    Thanks.

    Richard
     
  2. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think all this is missing is the word "that." So to make it correct, if I have any idea what I'm talking about, you would change it to "Would you recommend that other people come to Urumqi?" It's a word we tend to drop when doing so doesn't interfere with being understood. Though I'm sure there will be someone along to correct me, or show a more correct way of saying it.
     
  3. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thank you, Rei. You reasoned in a sensible way and it helps me to memorize the structure more easily.
    Richard
     
  4. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I think what might be throwing you off is that we typically say things like, "Would you recommend white wine to go with fish?" Instead of, "Would you recommend people consider white wine to go with fish?"

    Would you recommend Urumqi as a nice place to visit?
     
  5. Kaltica
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    Kaltica New Member

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    Ohmyrichard:

    IMHO, the problem isn't so much that such phrasing is idiomatically unsound; the issue is clarity. To wit, it isn't clear whether the person or the destination is being recommended. That is:

    "Would you recommend other people to come to Urumqi?"

    This could be interpreted as:

    "Would you recommend other candidate attendees who might merit coming to Urumqi?"

    One can avoid this confusion by the methods that Rei and Architectus suggested.

    -o-
     
  6. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks,Kaltica. Actually the host just meant "Would you advise other people to visit Urumqi?"
    Richard
     
  7. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks for your reply, architectus. However, I'm sorry to say that actually it is because "recommend somebody to do something" runs parallel to our Chinese wording/sentence structure that I came here for your confirmation of the correctness of the structure. It so often happens that if we Chinese learners of English speak English the way we do Chinese, we might fall into the trap of literal translation, which is undesirable in most cases.
    Another point I would like to clarify is that I here confine myself to seeking help from you native speakers with the authenticity of the English sentence structure. That programme seemed to promote something political but I am in no position to tell you anything about the security situation of that region. Sorry for my being incapable of doing it.
    Thanks for your reply again.
    Richard
     
  8. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't like to make comments about the 'correctness' of idiomatic spoken English, specially American English, but for written English:

    Would you recommend other people to come to Urumqi?

    is not the standard form taught in any textbook I've ever used. In the above example I would use 'advise', not 'recommend':

    Would you ADVISE other people to come to Urumqi?

    You can insert 'that', as others have suggested:

    Would you recommend THAT other people come to Urumqi?

    BUT you'll note that you cannot put 'to come', it is 'come'. This is because
    'recommend' is one of the words that is used with the Subjunctive, e.g:

    - Dr. Smith recommended that Mark SUBMIT his research paper before the end of the month.
    - It is recommended that you TAKE the pills with water.
    - She recommended that he TOOK the pills with water. (past subjunctive)

    OR, 'recommend' is used with gerund or a noun after it, e.g.

    - Would you recommend GOING (gerund)/A TRIP (noun) to Urumqi?
    - The waiter recommends ORDERING (gerund) white wine with fish.
    - Would you recommend white wine (noun) to drink with fish?

    It's important to note that the structure BEFORE the word 'recommend' affects the form, i.e. subjunctive after 'that', and gerund/noun after other phrases.
     
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  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    mad has said what i was getting ready to... that's the full and proper explanation of why there should be no 'to' after 'recommend'...
     
  10. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks, madhoca. But, to be frank, I have never seen "She recommended that he TOOK the pills with water." in my readings. Is "She recommended that he TAKE the pills with water." also right? Is there any difference in meaning between the two versions?
    Thanks.
    Richard
     
  11. Sound of Silence
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    Sound of Silence Member

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    It does seem a complicated way of putting it. But I don't think it's intended as a that-clause because it doesn't flow logically when put back together:

    Would you recommend that other people to come to Urumqi.


    If it was intended as a that-clause it would have been said something like:

    Would you recommend that other people come to Urumqi.


    Which isn't exactly wrong, it's just been mixed up a touch.

    I'd personally opt for the simple:
    'would you recommend Urumqi to other people'.
    You have a simple noun phrase + transitive verb + noun phrase * prep phrase combination. 'Recommend' is an open enough verb to let the reader infer that kind of infinitive 'to come', you don't really need it. Unless of course you want to speciafically highlight that particular action, then I'd probably place the infintive in intial position (at the beginning of the clause) to highlight it:
    As the place for people to be, would you recommend Urumqi...
    But if I wanted to keep focus on the person I was speaking to (if for example the guy was a top-class ttour guide and his opinion was highly important to any reader/listener) I'd stick the infintive at the end and keep forcus on the 'you' of the clause:
    Would you recommend Urumqi as the place for people to be...

    With how that sentence was mixed up, though, you can tell the guy was producing a sentence in real time and under pressure. If he'd have thought it through, I guess it would have come out a little better. But then that takes away the beauty of seeing language in use, and cages it with how it should supposedly be used.
     
  12. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    TOOK is past subjunctive and TAKE is present subjunctive.
    In other words, the difference in meaning is that TOOK is for something he did which is at this point in time over and done with in the past, but TAKE implies that he takes the pills as a regular daily habit.
     
  13. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    The sentence is only incorrect because of the extra "to".
    The speaker just goofed. . . Delete the "to" in red, and the sentence is fine.

    It could be made more clear by adding "that", or better yet, rephrasing, but it isn't strictly needed, IMO. From my experience, it's the "bonus words" that screw up sentences more often than missing ones.
     
  14. linchpin
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    linchpin Member

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    Hi Kas,
    I like your style, short, and cut.
     
  15. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    But in my humble opinion, we always say "Someone suggested that they break into small groups." and "It was his doctor who suggested that he change his job."(Both example sentences are taken from Collins CoBuild English Usage). In my readings I have never come across "Someone suggested that they BROKE into small groups." and "It was his doctor who suggested that he CHANGED his job." although, in these two situations, usually "break into small groups" and "change his job" were done after the suggestions.
    Compare this pair again:
    Someone suggested that they (should) break into small groups.
    Someone suggests that they (should) break into small groups.
    In each of the two sentences it is "should" omitted.The modal verb "should" in the first sentence is in its past form(Some say that in such cases "should" is its own past form); however, it is not the case with the second sentence, the modal verb "should" in the second sentence is in the present tense.
    Thus, we apply the same rule to "She recommended that he (should)take the pills with water.", where "should" can also be omitted, but "take" can never be changed to "took" or whatever.
    Would you please refer me to some convincing sources if you insist that "She recommended that he TOOK the pills with water." is correct?
    Please never feel offended by my stubbornness. Although my English grammar books do not include any examples like your "She recommended that he TOOK the pills with water.", it is possible that many people have neglected this type of sentences of the subjunctive mood.
    Thanks.
    Richard
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry, mad, but 'took' is improper grammar and makes no sense...

    it doesn't necessarily mean he was told to continue taking it... if that was the intent, then 'always' would have been added before 'take'...

    so 'take' is the proper word to use there...
     
  17. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks, maia.
     
  18. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I beg to disagree that 'take' is the only accepted form. Not only 'took' but also 'takes' and 'should take' could be used, in fact. When I Googled for support I found this, for example (and many, many other examples, but I won't bore you).


    Americans use the subjunctive more than British English speakers:

    For example, my American English absolutely requires the so-called "subjunctive" in sentences like "I recommend that she do this". Normal British English uses "I recommend that she does this" -- impossible in American -- and the typical American usage is strictly formal in British.
    Charles-James N. Bailey ORLAPUBS P. L26: THESE MISNAMED "SUBJUNCTIVES"
    The British do not make the distinction as often as North Americans between "It was important that they knew that she was dying" and "It was important that they should know that she was dying." The latter is similar to "It was important for them to know that she was dying."

    etc, etc.
     
  19. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    Took is past tense, and makes no sense, as maia said.

    "The Dr. recommended that I walked for thirty minutes daily." Huh? Makes no sense. How can you recommend for a person to have already done something? To the best of my knowledge, time travel does not exist.

    Fire that Dr.
     
  20. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is perfectly normal use in British English (see above). It is past subjunctive here, not past simple.

    However, we TEACH the present subjunctive with 'recommend' where I work (regardless of how we normally speak) and don't get into normal everyday usage (which I swore I wouldn't do in my first post, for this very reason!) so although it's rapidly becoming an archaic form in Britain, in the grammar lessons everyone stays friends when we stick to certain basic rules!

    In fact, in Britain, we would nearly always put in a 'should'. Like it or not, that's perfectly correct in Britain, even for formal English.

    This was a grammar question, but as this is a creative writing forum, I think we should remember that correct formal grammar has its place, but for speaking i.e. dialogue, or contemporary informal prose, e.g. articles, it's really essential to depict language as it is actually used in the culture you are writing about.
     
  21. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    You mean that both "She recommended that he TOOK the pills with water." and "She recommened that he (should) take the pills with water" are correct and that the former is what Britons like to use in their daily conversations while the latter is univerally accepted in whatever situation, do you mean so?
    Thanks.
    Richard
     
  22. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Both examples are normal INFORMAL British English--they wouldn't be considered sub-standard English that needed correcting. They can be found in newspaper articles, brochures etc, not just in speech.

    The second example with 'should' is correct both for informal AND formal use in British English, e.g. it is formal enough to be used even for writing academic essays. In fact, it is the most common way we write or say a sentence with 'recommend'--but I can't speak for US use here.
     

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