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What is a suggestion? It is an idea of a plan that we present to other people. We say the idea that we have, to see if other people are interested in joining us in doing that plan. There are four common ways we can make a suggestion in English:

~ Let’s…
~ Shall we…
~ Why don’t we…
~ How about / What about…

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After each of these options, we put the infinitive without ‘to,’ with one exception. First let’s see some examples, not including the exception.

~ Let’s get a coffee after the lesson.
~ Shall we get a coffee after the lesson?
~ Why don’t we get a coffee after the lesson?

 
As you can see, the exception to the infinitive without ‘to’ rule is ‘how about / what about.’ After these two options (they mean the same thing), we put the gerund. We use the gerund in this case because the word ‘about’ is a preposition, so we need to put the gerund after it, not the infinitive. For example:

~ How about getting a coffee after the lesson?
~ What about getting a coffee after the lesson?

 
It is possible to say any suggestion using these expressions. Let’s see a different example suggestion:

~ Let’s practice the song again.
~ Shall we practice the song again?
~ Why don’t we practice the song again?
~ How about practicing the song again?
~ What about practicing the song again?

 
As you can see, the suggestions all mention ‘we’ or ‘us.’ This is because one person is suggesting something to another person (or other people), and so it becomes a group activity. However, note that with the ‘shall’ construction, we can make a suggestion for ‘I’ as well as ‘we.’ This means that we make a proposal for ‘me’ (the speaker) to do something on their own. For example:

~ It’s very hot. Shall I open the window?
~ Shall I give him the answer?
~ You look thirsty; shall I make you a drink?
~ Shall I call us a taxi?

 
Try the exercise to practice making suggestions in English!
 
A. Edstrom
 

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