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I have read that suggest (the verb) is never followed by a pronoun and an infinitive verb.

Can suggesting (the gerund) be followed by a pronoun and an infinitive verb?

I have read:

Adriana flew down to India despite all the words of caution she got at home, suggesting he could be fake or a con man, etc.

Thanks in advance.

  • Thanks for this discussion on the use of the verb suggest. But I wonder if the two sentences are correct. 1. He suggested his seeing the dentist. 2. He suggested on his seeing the dentist. Please help explain this. Thanks in advance. – user12349 Nov 28 '14 at 11:25
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The rule is actually that suggest (or suggesting) is never followed by an object pronoun. Nor is suggest followed by an infinitive verb. The sentence you quoted is perfectly correct. The key part:

...suggesting he could be fake...

This phrasing does comply with the first of three proper uses of suggest, thanks again to English Teacher Melanie:

subject + suggest + (that) + subject + subjunctive

The word that is omitted in your phrase, but it is there in spirit. As Melanie says it is optional.

...suggesting that he could be fake...

He is the subject pronoun of the that-clause. The verb be is in the subjunctive mood, looking very similar to the infinitive form, but of course there is no to. Could is an auxiliary verb expressing possibility.

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  • I am sorry but I am a little bit confused now, so is this a wrong sentence (suggesting he could be fake or a con man, etc.)? – user62015 Mar 6 '14 at 12:20
  • Yes! Good point, @user62015, I just clarified the answer to say that the wording you quoted is already correct as it stands. – Bob Stein Mar 6 '14 at 13:16
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(Presumably this sentence occurs in a context where we already know who "he" is.)

The comma is a problem in this sentence.

If the meaning is meant to be as follows...

She got words of caution at home. These words of caution suggested that "he" could be a fake[etc]. She flew to India despite getting these words of caution.

...then the sentence should be written WITHOUT the comma after "home" and should have a comma after "India". This is because "words of caution" is a noun (nominal) phrase that is modified by the two adjectival phrases "[that] she got at home" and "suggesting he could be fake or a con man[etc]". These two phrases modify the noun phrase "words of caution". They are directly connected to it and should not be separated from it by a comma [despite the awkward length of the phrase].

As the sentence stands now - with the comma - its strict grammatical meaning could be that while Adriana was flying down to India she spent her time on the plane suggesting (presumably to other passengers) that "he could be fake or a con man, etc." Alternatively it could mean that (somehow in the story's context) the fact that she flew down suggested that he was a con man.

The sentence might better be written: "Despite all the words of caution she got at home suggesting that he could be fake or a con man, Adriana flew down to India."

But it might be best to avoid syntactical ambiguity and just separate the thought into multiple sentences: "Adriana's family cautioned her that he might be a con man or worse. Despite their warnings, she flew down to India."

I hope things work out for Adriana. I'm beginning to worry a bit.

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I have not heard the rule that suggest-pronoun-infinitive is not proper. Is it possible the rule is there is no "to" before the infinitive verb?

I suggest you take the cannoli.

I suggest you to take the cannoli.

The first is correct. Even though take is functionally an infinitive verb the "to" is omitted. (I apologize, I'm sure this rule has a name, but I couldn't cite it.)

To answer your question, the grammar of the example seems correct to me:

...suggesting he could be fake...

Here "could" is an auxiliary verb expressing possibility before the infinitive verb "be". (And there is no "to" on the infinitive.)

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  • 1
    Thanks, you are right. I searched on Google and found out that we never use an object pronoun after "suggest" and we also never use "to + an infinitive verb". I found this link (englishteachermelanie.com/grammar-how-to-use-the-verb-suggest) to give you an idea what I was thinking of. – user62015 Mar 6 '14 at 2:47
  • Ah that link is very clarifying, thank you @user62015. I made a whole new answer. If you accept that one I'll delete this one. – Bob Stein Mar 6 '14 at 9:39

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