Skip to Content

“Suggest To Go” vs. “Suggest Going”

“Suggest To Go” vs. “Suggest Going”

Sharing is caring!

A non-native English speaker asks a coworker, who is a native speaker, whether it should be “suggest to go” or “suggest going.”

The coworker responds, “The two expressions seem to be correct, but I think ‘suggest going’ is a better phrase.”

Both ended up scratching their heads and started googling for some grammatical explanations.

So, which one is grammatically correct? And, why do these kinds of issues occur? Scroll down for more details.


Which is grammatically correct, “suggest to go” or “suggest going?”

Based on grammatical conventions in modern-day English, “suggest going” is the widely-accepted structure if we are going to construct a simple, subjunctive sentence in the simple present tense. For example, we can say “I suggest going to the movies.” We can also use a complex sentence structure to imply a more formal tonality with a slightly different focus as in “I suggest that we go to the movies.” Although “suggest to go” does not create any chance of misinterpretation to the hearer or reader, grammar checker tools and native English speakers would consider this structure oddly formed.


A grammatical explanation on “suggest going”

This section focuses on the grammatical construction of the subjunctive mood in English, wherein the verb “to suggest” is commonly used.

Also, the succeeding subsections aim to provide a more explicit elaboration of the nuances behind the phrase “suggest going” rather than the subjunctive mood in general.

But, if you want to know the fundamentals of the subjunctive mood or voice in English, please click here for more details.


The verb “to suggest”

“Suggest” is a transitive verb commonly used in forming the subjunctive voice in the English sentence construction, just like recommend, insist, and demand.

The subjunctive voice or mood is a powerful language trait because it allows the user to express hypothetical ideas such as a wish or even an imprecation.

The two other moods in English are indicative and imperative in which the first allows us to express actual events and direct commands with the second.

When we express hypothetical ideas in the subjunctive form, it means that we are consciously using our freewill or volition in the process.

Thus, “to suggest” may also be called a volitional verb that allows us to voluntarily impose our ideas in order for others to consider.

In linguistics, volition is used to distinguish whether an action is intentional or accidental, which can be achieved by analyzing the word elements used in a statement.

Whereas in psychology, it is defined as a mental process that a person undergoes in order to be able to decide and commit an action.

The verb “to suggest” is neither used to express a direct command nor an actual event taking place, but rather to impose ideas, wishes, or advice instead.

Hence, it allows language users to express counterfactual statements and, therefore, vital in the process of decision making.


The grammatical structure of the subjunctive “suggest going”

Since “to suggest” is a transitive and subjunctive verb, it needs a direct object afterward to answer the question “what is being suggested?”

Nouns, noun phrases, and object pronouns are used in creating direct objects, which is why the gerund “going” should come after “suggest” and not “to go.”

Gerunds are noun-functioning words formed by adding the suffix -ing to the base verb that may be used as subjects or objects in sentences.

Let’s go back to the example given earlier.

I suggest going to the movies.

The sentence above is a simple present subjunctive form, which means that the language user actively proposes an action to be done.

“Going to the movies” is the complete noun phrase that receives the transferable act of suggestion.

Contextually speaking, using this format means that the language user is neither indicating nor commanding the message recipient.

Instead, the aim of the statement is for the message recipient to consider the act being recommended.

This particular form of subjunctive mood also enables the language user to implicitly express a wish, rather than imposing an action explicitly as in the imperative mood.

The next sentence demonstrates the structure of the previous example in an imperative manner, with a slightly less formal and more direct tone. 

Let us go to the movies.

The main difference between the two examples is that the first one prompts the message recipient to consider the proposal, whereas the second one is more of an invitation.


The other subjunctive structure of “suggest going”

Another way to express the subjunctive mood is by using a complex sentence format.

A complex sentence is composed of at least one independent and one dependent clause linked by a subordinating conjunction.

The subordinating conjunction “that” is normally used in creating this type of subjunctive sentence.

I suggest that we go to the movies.

Compared with the subjunctive format given previously, the example above already contains the subject “we” in the dependent clause.

In this case, the suggestion carries more power, technically called illocutionary force, because of the presence of an agent in the second clause.

Therefore, “I suggest going to the movies” is relatively less direct than “I suggest that we go to the movies,” since the former structure focuses only on the act being suggested.

And thus, it allows a more implicit expression of one’s own volition in the communication process, which is more formal and less imposing.


The implications of using “suggest to go”

If you’re a non-native English speaker constantly using “suggest to go,” please do not feel bad about yourself.

As long as you are always willing to learn and adjust to the English grammatical conventions, then you are on the right track.

For starters, I’d like to stress the point that knowledge of complex grammatical structures must never be used to deprecate or make fun of others who have not fully mastered such subtleties.

In the first place, the intricacies behind “suggest going” require advanced language comprehension skills to be understood.

More so, other languages are not equipped with formal subjunctive structures like Vietnamese, while others even have more complex systems like French.

This means that while a native English speaker doesn’t have any trouble with the subjunctive, a non-native speaker may think that it is utterly eccentric and hard to digest.

Always remember that language characteristics including syntax, semantics, and phonology are not necessarily the same across the world.

And this is what makes all cultures in different language communities unique and, nonetheless, beautiful.


Frequently Asked Questions on “Suggest to go” vs. “Suggest going”


What verb patterns can be used with “suggest?”

“Suggest” may be followed by a noun as in “suggest Katy,” a noun phrase as in “suggest a good movie,” an optional that in a dependent clause as in “suggest that we go to the movies,” a gerund as in “suggest going,” or a wh-question word as in “suggest where I might be able to take her on a date.”


Should it be “suggest to do” or “suggest doing?”

In expressing the simple present subjunctive voice in English, we need to use “suggest doing” rather than “suggest to do.” For example, we can say “She suggests doing it now.” Although using “suggest to do” may not necessarily create misinterpretation, native English speakers may find the structure grammatically unsound.


What is meant by “subjunctive mood” in English?”

The subjunctive mood is one of the three verb moods in English that enables language users to express hypothetical ideas like wishes and desires. The subjunctive mood can be further categorized as “optative”, meaning desired or planned, or “potential,” which means only a state of the mind. The other two moods in English are indicative and imperative.



In a nutshell, it is essential that we know how the subjunctive mood allows language users to express desires and wishes, thereby prompting imaginative ideas to take place.

On the darker side though, the subjunctive otherwise allows regrets and implicit manipulation of others to occur and, hence, it must be sparingly used.