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Advice & Suggestions


Understanding Advice and Suggestions

The communicative acts of offering advice and making suggestions occur when the speaker wishes to express his or her opinion regarding what the hearer should or should not do in a certain situation.  This can refer to emotional actions or feelings (e.g., trying to make the other person cheer up) as well as physical actions (e.g., taking a seat, having a cup of coffee).

In some languages, advice and suggestions can be sensitive communicative acts because the hearer may not always want to take the advice or listen to the suggestion.  In some languages (e.g., some varieties of English), it is not appropriate to give advice or make suggestions if they are not solicited. 

Take, for example, the situation below:

A friend of yours is in a grocery store with a child he is babysitting.  The child is acting up and making lots of noise.  It is very annoying to the other shoppers and a lady stops your friend to give him advice on what to do. 

She says:
"You know, have you thought about leaving and coming back later?"

man in the grocery store

What is your impression of the situation?  Is it okay for the lady to give your friend advice in this case?  Why or why not?


An Introduction to Advice and Suggestions in Spanish

In contrast to the example we above, questions are a common language strategy used in Spanish when making suggestions or giving advice.   In this section, we explore some of the different strategies that are used for giving advice and making suggestions.  By learning these strategies you will be better equipped to give advice yourself and to interpret suggestions.  You will probably receive more advice than you give, so it is important to think about how to internalize the suggestions that are made to you.  Sometimes suggestions can appear offensive or very difficult to interpret for learners who are native speakers of English. 

An Example:
50% of advanced learners and 75% of intermediate learners have difficulty interpreting the following example.      

Tú: Busco algo para leer en el avión.

Tu amiga:  ¿No has pensado en leer este libro?

(Koike, 1996)

What is your impression of this suggestion?  Does it appear appropriate to you? Why or why not?


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