I read something about the difference between suggest and recommend but I do not know if it's true or not. "The verb “suggest” is used to propose an idea or opinion.

It is often used to offer a possible solution or to make a gentle or polite proposal.

On the other hand, the verb “recommend” is used to express a strong endorsement or approval of a particular course of action, product, or service." source is: https://phoenixenglishlang.com/suggest-vs-recommend/

But I heard these two verbs instead of each other in movies or songs! Can someone explain it to me better? I'm awful at understanding the meaning of different words with similar meanings!

  • 1
    Not in this case, where probably most native speakers think of suggest and recommend as "equivalent" in the context of telling you about a movie they think you'll like. They'll also tell you you should or could watch "Dogman", or whatever movie they recommend / suggest. You can look up those two auxiliary verbs to see what the difference is, but in practice If you get either of "You should / could wach Dogman" as responses to "I wonder what would be a good movie to watch tonight", you can safely assume they both mean exactly the same thing. Mar 13 at 17:08
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    @Jay: I seriously doubt many if any native speakers think the choice between suggest and recommend makes any difference when proposing a choice of movie. And even if the speaker thought he was conveying a difference, he'd probably be wasting his time - if the addressee doesn't recognize the same distinction, no distinction has in fact been made. Mar 13 at 17:20
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    @FumbleFingers RE suggest vs recommend a movie: Quite true. And many similar cases. Like if someone points a gun at my head and says, "I suggest you leave now", I'd take that as a very strong suggestion. :-)
    – Jay
    Mar 14 at 1:16
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    Answers should go in answer boxes. The long commentary has taken a life of its own. The OP can ask (using the flag tab) for the moderators to delete all the comments if they find them distracting and/or unhelpful.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 14 at 9:52
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    @FumbleFingers I'll definitely agree with your key point there: No matter what a speaker intends by a certain choice of words, if the listener does not attach the same meaning to those words, he does not convey what he intended. This is true in many cases, not just this one, and is a good principle to keep in mind when attempting to communicate.
    – Jay
    Mar 16 at 12:17

4 Answers 4


The website you link to is perfectly correct.

If you suggest a course of action, you tell someone that it is a possibility, maybe even a good idea.

If you recommend a course of action, you say that you think it definitely is a good idea, and what you would advise them to do.

  • So is it true"I suggest you watch this movie"?
    – fateme
    Mar 13 at 16:31
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    Do you mean "Is it correct?" (I don't know whether it's true or not!). It is less emphatic than saying that you recommend it. Mar 13 at 16:38
  • Can it be in simple words that recommend is stronger than suggest?
    – U. Windl
    Mar 14 at 9:08
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    @U.Windl - Yes, you could put it that way. Mar 14 at 9:21
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    @U.Windl "Stronger" is an even better way to put it. Sometimes a "suggestion" is really a recommendation or even a command, but is being framed as a suggestion due to etiquette reasons.
    – Michael W.
    Mar 14 at 15:49
  1. Don't worry too much about situations in which two words are "interchangeable." Pick one and you'll be ok. Between "I suggested that he tie his shoe" and "I recommended that he tie his shoe," no one will say that you chose the wrong one.
  2. But occasionally there are contexts where one is more idiomatic than another. "Recommend" is often used for promoting a choice based on your personal experience. When you apply to a job, you might provide "letters of recommendation," not "letters of suggestion," in which people who know you recommend you. You might "recommend" a tv show, or a model of car, or a vacation destination, or a specialty dish at a restaurant. In this usage, "recommend" has connotations similar to "endorse" and "vouch for." In all of these situations, you could still use "suggest," but "recommend" is more likely. You could ask the restaurant server "Do you have any suggestions," but "Do you have any recommendations" is more common. If you volunteer a suggestion—say, a stranger is looking at the beer list and you say "I recommend the Pilsner"—then it's much more idiomatic. "Suggest," in this case, would imply that there was already a question that you were offering an answer to, but a "recommendation" is more comfortable being unsolicited.

In general, "recommend" is stronger than "suggest". But the difference is subtle. And the two words are not used in a way that makes this difference consistent.

  • 1
    The subtlety lies in the speaker's opinion. To "suggest" is more objective than to "recommend". But "suggest" may be used to show a mere appearance of an objective point of view in an idiomatic may. (Thanks @FumbleFingers).
    – Wastrel
    Mar 14 at 14:47

The basic difference is highlighted by the phrase "I can recommend X" being in common use, whereas no-one would say "I can suggest X". A recommendation needs to be based on knowledge or experience, but anyone can suggest anything.

For example if a group of people are trying to decide where to eat, a recommendation for X would mean "I know X is good, so let's go there", whereas a suggestion of X would just mean "I'd like to try X".

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