What should I do?

Three more ways to give advice in English

Your English-speaking friend comes up to you with a problem and asks for your advice:

“Hey! I wanted to ask your advice about something.

My sister is living abroad. She just called me to say that she is coming to visit me next week for four days! I am excited, but nervous because I don’t have any vacation time at work.

I haven’t seen her in almost a year and I want to spend time with her, but I won’t be able to if I have to work every day. What do you think I should do?”

What do you say?

You probably know how to give advice using the expressions “should” and “ought to,” maybe even “could try.”

So maybe you would say:

  • You should tell your boss about the situation.
         *Notice that should is followed by the base form of the verb
  • You ought to just quit that job. You hate it anyway!
         *Notice that ought to is followed by the base form of the verb
  • You could try calling in sick for a couple days.
         *Notice that could try is followed by the gerund form of the verb.

 

Here are three more expressions that will add a more natural and conversational tone to your advice.

  1. Why don’t you….?

This expression is a gentle suggestion or advice. It is less direct than should and is great to you use with friends when they are talking about personal problems.

Example:

Why don’t you call your sister and tell her to change her trip dates a little?

2. If I were you, I would…

This expression is in the second conditional, so you need to use the simple past for the next verb in the expression.

This expression shows how you feel you would act if you were in the same situation. It is also a fairly indirect and gentle way to give advice.

Example:

If I were you, I would tell my boss the situation and ask to have a few days of unpaid vacation.

 3. It’s high time you…

This expression has a negative tone. It implies that the solution to the problem should have been done already. It shows that the speaker thinks that the listener is late in doing the right action.

Example:

It’s high time you quit that job! You have been complaining about not having vacation for years now. Just quit already and spend time with your sister.

Got it? Test yourself below!

Question 1

If I were you I would...

Which of the sentences below is correct?




Question 2

Ought to

Which of the following sentences is correct?




Question 3

It's high time you...

Which of the following sentences is correct?




Question 4

Should

Which of the following sentences is correct?




Question 5

Why don't you...?

Which of the following sentences is correct?




Question 6

Could try

Which of the following sentences is correct?





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