When someone says "Consider doing something", which is implied, suggestion or suppression?

For example, "Consider eating more vegetables" sounds like a suggestion for me.

But how about "Consider eating chocolates at 3am every night"? Can this be a gentle suppression, meaning "I'm afraid I think you should think twice before eating chocolates at 3am every night; I do not recommend it"?

If the word "consider" could be either of a suggestion or a suppression, how to differentiate them?

  • @tgdavies Yes. As my dictionary uses abbreviations like "sth" for "something" and "sbd" for "somebody", I thought they are well-known usage.
    – ynn
    Jul 25 at 10:40
  • 2
    They're reasonably common in dictionaries, but a lot less common in general usage.
    – psmears
    Jul 25 at 10:57
  • 1
    Why do you think "consider" has this meaning of suppression or warning? Dictionaries say it means "to think about carefully", imagine, take into account, examine, and similar things. In principle you could think about something and decide not to do it. But while "think again" is often an admonition, I don't think "consider" is, certainly not in your example - it sounds more like a suggestion, as in "Consider going to bed earlier".
    – Stuart F
    Jul 25 at 11:28
  • @StuartF Thank you. Replying to the first question, I thought "consider" perhaps implies a suppression because, in (my native language) Japanese, "よく考える"(think carefully) often implies a suppression. I didn't know if such an indirection of saying something is specific to Japanese. For example, "徹夜でゲームすることについてよく考えなさい"(Consider playing games all night) will most likely mean "never play games all night" in Japanese.
    – ynn
    Jul 25 at 11:36
  • Consider like "Think about" can mean shock (Consider what you're doing!), warning (Please consider what you're doing and continue only if it's wise), agreement (Consider it a deal.) Really anywhere you'd want someone to weigh some thoughts. Jul 25 at 12:34

1 Answer 1


I believe that you're referring to this definition of "consider" (from M-W):

1: to think about carefully: such as
a: to think of especially with regard to taking some action
b: to take into account

We often tell someone to "consider" an action in order to suggest that action as a possibility. Here is a shortened version of a conversation that I had with someone this morning (on WhatsApp):

Other person: Anyone use a water filter they recommend?
Me: If weight is an issue, consider tablets instead.

I'm suggesting that tablets might be a better option than a water filter, but my statement is much less forceful than simply saying "Take tablets instead."

Can this be a gentle suppression

"Consider [an action]" advises for the action, not against it. You may be thinking of "reconsider". From M-W:

: to consider again especially with a view to changing or reversing

  • 1
    This is correct, "consider" above does not suggest stopping on ongoing action. In addition to the alternative 'reconsider', or 'consider... (instead)', it's also worth mentioning the use of "consider" + "not". "Consider not eating chocolates at 3am every night."
    – BadZen
    Jul 25 at 14:39

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