Don’t say recommend YOU to

A lot of non-native English speakers say “I recommend you to [verb]…”, but a native English speaker would never say this. Why? Let’s take a look at an example.

I recommend that shop. They have the best ramen in the city! You should try the miso ramen. And I also recommend getting a plate of gyoza. You won’t be disappointed.

The reason you is not used is that information is already understood. The listener knows you are talking to them. It would be very strange if the listener did not know that the speaker is addressing them.

Grammar pattern

Let’s dig into the grammatical reason we don’t need to say “you.” Which sentence pattern is used in the following sentences?

  1. He cooked me dinner.
  2. He bought me a drink.
  3. He recommended I try it.

These follow an S-V-O-O pattern (subject-verb-object-object). He didn’t just cook dinner, he cooked it for me! He cooked me dinner. Now the focus is not so much on the dinner, it’s on the act being done especially for a person.

So that means:

  • “I recommend the dumplings.” Means these dumplings are recommended.
  • “I recommend you try the dumplings.” Means something about you is well suited to these dumplings.

If a person I don’t know well says, “I recommend you try…” then I feel weird. Why do they think they know me so well?

While we are on this topic, S-V-O-O does not need the infinitive. So it’s incorrect to say, “I recommend you to try.”

Formal English

In some formal communication, we may wish to be clear who is being recommended something. It’s fine to say, “We recommend that you book your flight early.”

We can also use the extra subject when we are talking about someone else, “I recommended she book her flight early.”

However, in day-to-day spoken English, native speakers generally don’t say, “I recommend you…”

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