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How to talk: Plans and Suggestions
There are many ways to suggest ideas and plans to people. Here we are going to look at their structure and how to use them, as well as how to answer.
- LET’S…….. & SHALL WE………?
‘Let’s’ is very common and very well known. People have many more problems with ‘Shall we……?’, but in fact they are very similar.
‘Let’s’ is not necessarily ‘Let’s go……’. It can be: ‘Let’s watch the football match!’, or ‘Let’s eat out this evening.’ It is generally used between friends or people who know each other well.
‘Shall we…..?’ is the equivalent in question form. It is a bit softer:
‘Let’s have a coffee.’ = ¡Tomamos un café!
‘Shall we have a coffee?’ = ¿Tomamos un café?
There is also a version of each in singular (I/me instead of we/us):
‘Let me take your jacket.’ = Dejame cogerte la chaqueta
‘Shall I take your jacket? = ¿Te cojo la chaqueta?
As a question, ‘Shall’ can be used in many ways, often combining with ‘Let’s’:
“Let’s have a coffee!”
“OK, but where shall we go?”
“What shall we do this weekend?”
“Let’s visit Aunt Sally!”
In many situations you will have problems thinking of the right word in a situation such as this:
‘¿Abro la ventana?’
Remember: ‘Shall’ es el Modal que SIEMPRE SE OLVIDA- It’s always forgotten. (By foreign speakers! For English speakers it’s very common.)
- HOW ABOUT / WHAT ABOUT …………?
This is a short way of saying:
‘WHAT ABOUT goING to the beach?’ = ‘What do you think about going to the beach?’
HOW ABOUT invitING James?’ = ‘How do you feel about inviting James?’
Notice: There is no difference between ‘How about?’ and ‘What about?’. They are both questions and the verb that follows must use ‘…ing’.
You can use them without a verb, and in many cases people use them not as a suggestion but as a way of introducing something into the conversation:
(5 minutes into conversation….)
“..and what about your father? Has he retired yet?” = ‘What can you tell me about….’
- WHY DON’T WE…? & DON’T YOU THINK…?
Negative question are very common and very popular in English. If I ask you ‘Do you think it’s very hot today?’ I can seem very inquisitive, but if I say ‘It’s very hot today, don’t you think?’ I am inviting you to agree with me, and it is a friendlier way of speaking. This ‘invitation’ is used for suggesting:
‘Why don’t we make packed lunch, in case we don’t find anywhere to eat?’
‘Don’t you think..?’ can be used with ‘could’ (podrías/pudieramos,etc.) or ‘should’ (deberías/deberíamos, etc.)
“Don’t you think you should take an umbrella?”
“Don’t you think we could book on the internet?”
- ANSWERS IN POSITIVE
“That sounds great!” (or: That sounds interesting/fun/wonderful….)
“I like that idea!” (“I like that idea- why don’t we ask Sarah if she wants to come?)
“I don’t mind.” (“I’m OK with any option”)
“It’s up to you.” (This means: ‘You decide.’)
“What shall we do tomorrow? How about going to the fair?”
“I don’t mind, mum- I went with my friends yesterday.”
“In that case, why don’t we take the train to London, or to Oxford?”
“It’s up to you- Oxford or London are both fine with me.”
- ANSWERS IN NEGATIVE
“That sounds awful!” (or: That sounds boring/expensive….)
“I’d love to, but….” (+ excuse: believable, if possible)
“I´m afraid I can’t.” (or: ‘I´m afraid it’s going to rain’ or any bad news you have)
“I’d rather not.” (= I’d prefer not to: You can give another suggestion: “I’d rather stay at home.”)
5b. ANSWERS TO THESE ANSWERS
“That’s a shame/pity!” (= Que pena/lastima)
“It doesn’t matter/Never mind.” (= It’s not so important)
“No problem- another day, maybe?”
“Hey Ana- Why don’t we have a drink together? We could get to know each other a bit more.”
“I’d love to Norman, but I have to study this evening.”
“No problem- How about Saturday? Nobody studies on a Saturday!”
“I´m afraid my friend Sarah has already invited me out this Saturday.”
“That’s a pity! Don’t you think we could go the theatre Friday night then?”
“I’d rather not- It sounds a bit boring.”
“In that case, let’s ………….. (etc. etc…..)