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There is the following entry in the Oxford Learners Dictionaries

recommend somebody to do something

  • We'd recommend you to book your flight early

Is it correct usage of recommend with the infinitive? Can that expression mean that one recommends somebody for doing something because that person is good at doing something.

2 Answers 2

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Recommend takes an object. Whatever the object is is what is being recommended.

There's a difference between the literal meaning of these two sentences:

  1. We'd recommend you to book your flight early.
  2. We'd recommend to you to book your flight early.

In sentence #1, the thing being recommended is 'you'. This means that, out of all the people who could potentially book the listener's flight early, the speaker thinks that the best person to do so would be the listener. In other words. This sentence takes booking the flight early as a given, and simply considers who should do it.

In sentence #2, the speaker is recommending "to book your flight early". This is a course of action. They think the listener should book their flight early.

Obviously, the literal meaning of sentence #1 would not make much sense in most situations. This, combined with context, would likely lead me to believe that they intended the meaning of sentence #2. In other words, the first is not particularly well constructed, but would probably be understood to mean the second.

I've looked in several dictionaries for the usage of recommend found in #1. The only one I found that attributed the meaning of sentence #2 to sentence #1 noted that it is considered wrong by some, and recommended to instead use the form in sentence #4, found below.

Some more common ways to phrase this thought include:

  1. We'd recommend you book your flight early.
  2. We'd recommend that you book your flight early.

"You book your flight early" is an action that is being recommended, but it sounds like an odd phrasing by itself. Instead, I would use a different tense:

  1. We'd recommend booking your flight early.
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  • Thank you. +1..It is a pity that the downvoter didn't explain the reason.
    – user18856
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 20:17
  • @AmD I'm the downvoter. I downvoted this answer because of the tone This is silly in most situations implies. One thing that we all should not forget is that We'd recommend you to book your flight early is from a reputable dictionary. However, I'm more than willing to retract my downvote if this answer is edited to state something along the lines "This is silly in American English" instead. Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 8:13
  • I looked into this issue and gathered more evidence around the web, which is probably worth a community wiki post, but I'm quite lazy now, so I'll just give some links to the results I found here. Here are the results of [recommend] you to [v*] on some corpora: corpus.byu.edu/coca/?c=coca&q=39802186 (COCA; AmE), corpus.byu.edu/bnc/?c=bnc&q=39812951 (BNC, BrE), corpus.byu.edu/glowbe/?c=glowbe&q=39802194 (GloWBE, Global Web-Based English). Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 8:20
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    @DCShannon I'm sorry, but I still see that it's wrong. The real problem is that recommend someone to do something can mean either a) recommend someone (to someone else) for doing something and b) recommend that someone do something, but your answer denies the existence of b). An ELL user kindly provided this part of Fowler's Modern English Usage (as a screenshot) in our chat room: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/22937?m=22031360#22031360 Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 0:02
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    Sorry again. I can see the part you mentioned in your last revision now. I think it's better to include that part in your answer: "You can also recommend someone to do something. Although they have eight children, they do not recommend other couples to have families of this size. Some people consider this use to be incorrect, and say that you should say 'Although they have eight children, they do not recommend that other couples should have families of this size'." --Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012 Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 0:06
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We'd recommend you to book your flight early. U The sentence means "we'd advise you to book your flight early".

The use of the verb " recommend" in this pattern is a bit controversial. It's correct to some writers and incorrect to others. So you cannot say it's absolutely wrong. OLD (both AE & BE), McMillian, and The Free Dictionary use the word recommend in this pattern. It's misguiding to say that you cannot do so. However, as this use isn't acceptable to many people, we may advise English learners to use the verb in the following patterns instead of the construct under controversy.

  • We'd recommend booking your flight early.

  • We'd recommend (that) you book your flight early.

  • We'd recommend that you should book your flight early (BE). If you follow AE, you may avoid this construction.

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    The asterisk (*) is commonly placed before ungrammatical sentences. Is that your meaning here?
    – user6951
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 12:06
  • @pazzo, I appreciate your comments. I don't know that. I mean that the said sentences are grammatical.
    – Khan
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 12:32
  • No, it is not correct. I think this is an error in the dictionary.
    – user18856
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 14:36
  • The sentence presented by the OP is grammatically correct. Please refer to OLD, McMillain, The Free Dictionary, etc.
    – Khan
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 15:44
  • @Khan I took the liberty of editing your answer. (I saw this part: "subject + present participle (-ing form)".) I hope you don't mind. Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 16:04

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