Page 456 of the Collins English Usage reads

When you suggest something, you mention it as a plan or idea for someone to consider. You do not 'suggest someone something': you 'suggest something to someone'.

Nor do you 'suggest someone to do something' unless suggest means 'recommend': You 'suggest that someone does something.'

Beatrice suggested that he spend the summer at their place

I do not understand what meaning other than recommned is being used for the distinction.

Secondly, with the meaning of "recommend", can you 'suggest someone something'?

  • They are concentrating on the correct pattern. You are concentrating on the meaning. People learning English often make the mistakes they point out. – Lambie Sep 16 '20 at 16:04

The dictionary entry is trying to explain a mistake often made by non-natives.

Those mistakes are these:

    • suggest someone something [BUZZER}
    • suggest someone to do something [BUZZER}

Suggest works like this:

  • I suggest you finish early. [followed by a clause, with or without that]. VERSUS
  • What did you suggest? I suggested cake, not biscuits be served at the party. [followed by a passive clause, same thing re that]
  • I suggested he read the book to learn the rules of the game.

Recommend works like this:

  • I recommended you leave early. [clause]
  • I recommended him (for the job). [indirect object,him]
  • I recommended the job to him. [direct object, job]
  • I suggested that, not this. [direct object]

No, you cannot "recommend someone something", just as the Collins says. But:

*You can recommend something to someone *You can suggest something to someone.

As for the difference, a recommendation is more formal than a suggestion.

  • I suggest you close that window. It's cold in here.

Closing a window would not usually be something you recommend in casual conversation.

However, you might say to a friend: I recommend you see a doctor for that knee.


  • Experts have recommended we keep the windows open as late as possible in the season due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

recommendations are generally more formal things compared to suggestions.

[reference: me own head]

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