How to Make Decisions and Suggestions in English

Today's post is a special guest post written by Ryan, a teacher at the Kaplan Manchester school in the UK.

Ryan is passionate about his city. He has travelled all around the world and loves meeting people from different cultures. When he is not teaching, you can usually find him at the theatre or listening to classical music.

Have you ever gone to a restaurant, looked at the menu and thought, “I don’t know what to have. There’s so much choice!”. Well, help is at hand: just ask the waiter. In this conversation, Michael and Emily are trying to decide what to order so they ask the waiter for his suggestions.

Michael:          What do you fancy, Emily?

Emily:              I really don't know. I haven't decided yet. There's so much to choose from.

Michael:          Shall we have a starter, or do you just want a main course?

Emily:              I don't mind. I'm not really keen on starters. I'd rather have a dessert.

Michael:          OK, let's do that.

a waiter appears

Waiter:            Are you ready to order?

Michael:          No, we haven't chosen anything yet. We're still thinking.

Waiter:            Shall I get you something to drink?

Michael:          Oh, I haven't even looked at the drinks yet. Err... Shall we get a bottle of wine, Emily?

Emily:              Yes, I think so.

Michael:          We'll have a bottle of wine, please.

Waiter:            Red or white?

Michael:          Will you choose the wine, or shall I?

Emily:              We'll have white, please.

Waiter:            I recommend the Chardonnay wine.

Emily:              Fine, we'll order that.

the waiter leaves

Michael:          Well, I think I have decided now. I'm going to have the fillet steak with mashed potatoes and vegetables, followed by chocolate pudding. What about you? What are you going to order?

Emily:              I'm going to get sausage, egg and chips.

Michael:          Oh. Delicious. With or without beans?

Emily:              Oh, I'll definitely have beans, I think.

In this conversation, the three people make offers, suggestions and decisions.  Look at the language they use each time. What language do they use for suggestions/offers?

We use shall I/ shall we + base form...? to make suggestions and offers.

Shall we get a bottle of wine? Shall we have a starter?

Shall I get you something to drink?

We only use shall with I/we. We use will with you/he/they eg

Will you choose the wine, or shall I?

What language do they use for decisions?

We use will and be going to to make decisions. If we decide now, we use will. If we have already decided earlierin the past, we use be going to.

We'll have a bottle of wine, please. We'll have white, please. I'll definitely have beans, I think.

I'm going to have the fillet steak. I'm going to get egg and chips.

Notice what Michael says at the start of the conversation: What do you fancy? We often use to fancy in informal conversations in British English to mean to want: What do you fancy? = What do you want/ what would you like?


Shall we practise some more?

Insert the missing words in the blank spaces. Check your responses in the English Activities Answer Key

Emily:              ______ we go out tonight?

Michael:          Sure, why not? Where do you fancy going?

Emily:              I’m not sure. There’s that new action film out at the cinema. Or there’s a romantic comedy. I think ________ watch the action movie, though.

Michael:          Well, in that case, I__ come with you. I can’t stand rom-coms.

Emily:              Great. I___ buy the tickets now online. ____ I order premium seats or regular?

Michael:          Regular seats are fine. ___ we get something to eat first?

Emily:              Actually, ________ cook some pasta. I’ve just prepared everything. Do you want to come over for some?

Michael:               I’d love to.

Emily:              Great. Oh, ___ you bring a bottle of wine with you?

Michael:          Of course. See you in a bit.

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