When you are not sure what to order in a restaurant, do you say to your server, "What do you suggest?" or "What do you recommend?" I have read somewhere that you should ask what the server recommends, and not what the server suggests. I don't understand the difference between "suggest" and "recommend" and why "suggest" is wrong. Please clarify this probelem.

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    The meanings overlap and both would be taken as meaning the same thing here. But "What do you recommend?" has the sense of "What do you think is best ...?" whereas "What do you suggest?" can just mean "Have you any ideas to put forward?" – Edwin Ashworth Feb 12 '15 at 12:03

A pedantic waiter would feel free to suggest that you order that which is in the best interest of the restaurant; whatever is most expensive or there is a glut of for example.

If asked to recommend something we are asking for preferences: what they actually enjoy eating themselves.

Being something of a cynic I never bother to ask such questions, partly because I don't trust the "suggestions" I receive but mostly because my own tastes may well be very different from that of the waiter, and finally because it feels to be an unfair question: which of your children do you most like?

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  • Waiters, pedantic or otherwise, are commonly under instructions to push certain dishes, and will do so given the opportunity, regardless of which verb the diner uses. – Brian Donovan Feb 12 '15 at 17:07
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    Brian: true, I need to add some emoticons. However I was trying to find a nuance of meaning that might explain differences in what one is asking for, as opposed to what one might actually get. – djna Feb 12 '15 at 17:32

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