Suggest vs. Offer vs. ProposeMay 05, 2021
Synonyms are an awesome part of language learning. They’re a FUN-tastic way to spruce up your writing and sound more like a native speaker! However, this is only possible if you use English grammar correctly. Some words may have synonyms that do not mean the same (please refer to the table above). In fact, depending on the context, they could have an entirely different meaning! So you have to be careful when using synonyms. For instance, if you use the wrong word that is unsuitable for the context, it can change the meaning of your whole message.
But the good news is that there is nothing complicated about these terms! So let’s see what’s the difference between suggest, offer, and propose, and how they are commonly misused and mistaken for each other.
Please see below for a conversation by three native speakers. It is a short discussion between three roommates about their dinner plans.
Alice: Hey guys, I’m starving. Any ideas?
Brian: Yeah I suggest we order in. How about Dominos?
Alice: Great idea! I saw an ad on Instagram where they are offering a 10% discount on delivery!
Carol : No, it’s still too expensive. Guys, remember we went grocery shopping yesterday? I propose we cook something at home.
In this conversation, suggest is used to give Brian’s opinion – he thinks they should order Dominos because he feels like having it. This was in response to Alice’s request for ideas on dinner plans.
Alice seems to really like Brian’s idea to order in from Dominos, because she saw a Dominos ad that was offering (or presenting) a 10% discount on pizza.
Suggest vs. Offer
Here suggest is used to give someone’s opinion whereas offer is used to present an opportunity to save money (by using the discount).
Carol disagrees with Brian and Alice for a good reason (they recently went grocery shopping). Therefore, she proposes (or provides an alternative plan) that they cook dinner at home.
Propose vs. Suggest vs. Offer
In this context, propose is different from both suggest/offer because Carol clearly states the following:
- what she thinks they should do - NOT order Dominos and cook instead,
- why they should do it - it’s too expensive,
- and how they can do it - they just went grocery shopping so they have all the things they need to make dinner at home.
Propose vs. Suggest
Propose is different from suggest here because Brian simply provided his opinion on the subject matter (dinner plans) but Carol put forward an idea (eating at home), a plan of action (cooking dinner), and also stated why they should act on her decision (they will save more money).
Propose vs. Offer
Moreover, propose is different from offer here because Carol’s statement (or plan of action) is to save her roommate's money by eating at home. On the other hand, Dominos is providing their customers with a discount if they wish to order pizza.
Learning a new language can be very tricky. But if you are now feeling more confident about your abilities in using these words correctly, try doing some practice. Here is a link to a quiz: