[This question comes from a sentence I read in a book. Anathem, if you must know.]

I'm a native English speaker (California style) and I understand what the semantic difference between "I don't recommend we [do something]" vs. "I recommend we don't [do the same thing]".

But I'm sort of vague on what the impact of those two different ways of saying almost the same thing are ... I'm not sure of the proper terminology ... but how does the phrasing change the emphasis or something about how you feel about the remark. I'm going back and forth on which one is ... stronger? more ironic? more dismissive? Something. I'm not sure.

How would you characterize the difference between these two phrasings? (To make this not a subjective question, consider what rule is it I could use to pick between the two phrasings were I writing a book...)

2 Answers 2


I believe "I recommend we don't" is a stronger statement against the action. It implies that doing the thing would be bad or incorrect.

"I don't recommend" means that you're not in favor of taking the action, but you're not taking a stand against it, either.

For example:

I don't recommend voting for the Libertarian candidate, as you'd be wasting your vote. But I recommend you don't vote for Donald Trump, because he would be a horrible President.


Depends on the term, phrasing, and subject that phrase is being used in. Saying "I don't recommend eating at that restaurant because..... vs. "I recommend we don't eat at that restaurant because....."

The first sentence I used indicates you are giving singular advice to a singular person or thing.
Whereas the second sentence indicates you are a part of / involved textually.

Sometimes just try saying it out loud...which sounds more casual, which sounds more professional, or does it seem that either one is fine?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.