Offer vs. Suggest

These verbs often present difficulties for Russian learners of English. I must confess that I myself confused them back then in the early stages of learning the language. Without further ado, let me dwell upon several specific meanings to tell one from the other. Mind I’m not going into great detail here (you can look up all the patterns in meaning of both the words in any good bilingual dictionary). My focus here is show some patterns of correct usage and find the right equivalent for: Что вы можете предложить (предложите)?

1 When you offer something to someone, this something is something CONCRETE. It may be a job offer, work, a seat, an apple, Common Patterns are: To offer smth To offer smb smth e.g He had offered cocaine to an undercover police officer. What can you offer? (something concrete like a job) Can I offer you a drink? If you offer to do something, you say that you are willing to do it. Peter offered to teach them water-skiing.

2 If you suggest something, this something is a PLAN or IDEA for someone to think about. Common Patterns are: To suggest (to smb that) smb do smth I suggest you ask him some specific questions about his past... I suggested to Mike that we go out for a meal with his colleagues...  To suggest smb should do smth What do you suggest we should do? Where do you suggest we should go?   To suggest doing smth I suggest going out after dinner.I suggest going out after dinner.
Now the questions:
What can you offer? – Что вы можете предложить? (such questions are usually asked at a job interview. In any case, it’s something REAL, CONCRETE) 
What can you suggest? – Что вы можете предложить (в смысле порекомендовать)
Can you suggest a restaurant to us?

What do you suggest we should do?
Where do you suggest we should go?
Сan you suggest where I can park my car? - не посоветуете ли /не подскажете ли/, где я могу поставить машину?

You can find the Russian explanation here.


  1. Does anyone know any good exercise to drill this?

  2. A really clear explanation! Like the part where 'offer' implies the speaker's willingness to do something for you, whilst 'suggest' doesn't necessarily mean that the speaker will be bothered to do anything at all. 'Suggest' is one selfish verb!
    Didn't you also find it confusing how the Gerund is used after 'suggest' and the Infinitive after 'offer'.

  3. That reminds me of a joke in Total English Intermediate about the manager and the worker. Do you remember?