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Tom suggested that I looked for another job.

hirashin

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Dear native English speakers,
someone says the above sentence makes sense. Is that right?
If so, what does it mean?
I don't think it has the same meaning as "Tom suggested that I look for another job".

Thanks in advance.

Hirashin
 
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I believe it means that Tom is "suggesting" (a guess of) what happened in the past. So Tom is guessing, and suggests to someone, that (at a time that would most likely be indicated in a previous sentence) you looked for another job.

Here's an imaginary context.

"Joe and Tom were discussing what I did on Tuesday. Tom suggested that I looked for another job. Joe disagreed; he instead suggested that I used my only day off to relax with my friends."
 
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joadbres

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While the sentence in the thread title is possible, it is very unlikely that a situation would arise in which it could be used. It is not worth your time thinking about it.
 

Lothor

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Sentence seems both grammatically correct and natural to me. I have a friend called Tom. When I told him about the way my boss yells at me and abuses his power, Tom suggested that I looked for another job.
 
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Sentence seems both fine and natural to me. I have a friend called Tom. When I told him about the way my boss yells at me and abuses his power, Tom suggested that I looked for another job.
I don't think that's correct usage.

When you say "Tom suggested that I look for another job", it's really a shortened form of "I should look for another job". Or at least, that's how I parse it. In this sense, "suggested" refers to giving a recommendation for what to do.

But with the past-tense phrasing, I interpret "I looked for another job" as something Tom thinks has happened; "suggested" refers to indicating (possibly explicitly, possibly implicitly) a fact that Tom knows or believes to be true. So it's a very different meaning.

It's possible to use past-tense with something that has a similar meaning to "Tom suggested that I should look for another job", but you have to replace "should" with "should have", and you can't drop "should" in this case. So for example: "Tom suggested that I should have looked for another job." In this example, Tom's suggestion is technically a recommendation about the past, but since you can't change the past, it really functions to indicate Tom's belief that you made a mistake (and are a fool for doing so).
 

hirashin

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Thank you all for your help.
Lothor, I have a question.
Sentence seems both grammatically correct and natural to me. I have a friend called Tom. When I told him about the way my boss yells at me and abuses his power, Tom suggested that I looked for another job.

Is the subjunctive mood used with the verb "suggest" in British English? Is it that this "looked" is not in the past tense?
 

Lothor

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JulieMaruchan - I've read your post a number of times but still don't see any ambiguity or error in using the past tense 'looked'. I've got no problem with 'look' though.

When I taught eikaiwa English, the (British) English textbook had exercises in on reported speech and the tense was always shifted back by one
'You should look for a new job' becomes Tom suggested that I looked for a new job.
That's the principle I'm working from - I can't see any need for the principle but that's what I've learned and sounds most natural to me.
 
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Michael2

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Lothor, I think you are getting confused between "suggest" as a reporting verb and "suggest" in its standard form. In its standard form it needs to be followed by the subjunctive. There's a good site here

What is the Subjunctive Mood? | English Teacher Melanie

It's for similar reasons that you don't follow modal verbs with inflections. "She should goes home" is obviously wrong. "He suggested I looked.." is just as wrong but doesn't look anywhere near as bad.

Similarly, "should" does not change form in reported speech, according to reported speech rules. "You should go on a diet" does not change to "He said I should have gone on a diet." as that would alter the meaning, i.e implying that I should have gone on a diet before we spoke, not advice for the future, as it was.

If you are purely reporting the words someone had said I think you could use the reported speech rules, i.e A "Where shall we go for dinner?" B "I can eat sushi," could become "He suggested that he could eat sushi." but here it is being used as a reporting verb, a substitute for "said", not actually making a suggestion to someone.
 

Lothor

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Lothor, I think you are getting confused between "suggest" as a reporting verb and "suggest" in its standard form. In its standard form it needs to be followed by the subjunctive. There's a good site here

What is the Subjunctive Mood? | English Teacher Melanie

It's for similar reasons that you don't follow modal verbs with inflections. "She should goes home" is obviously wrong. "He suggested I looked.." is just as wrong but doesn't look anywhere near as bad.

Similarly, "should" does not change form in reported speech, according to reported speech rules. "You should go on a diet" does not change to "He said I should have gone on a diet." as that would alter the meaning, i.e implying that I should have gone on a diet before we spoke, not advice for the future, as it was.

If you are purely reporting the words someone had said I think you could use the reported speech rules, i.e A "Where shall we go for dinner?" B "I can eat sushi," could become "He suggested that he could eat sushi." but here it is being used as a reporting verb, a substitute for "said", not actually making a suggestion to someone.

That was very helpful thanks. Hirashin - ignore my previous posts.
 

hirashin

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Thank you for the detailed explanation, Michael2.
Then "Tom suggested that I looked for another job" would sound off in British English as well, right?
 

Michael2

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It certainly sounds off to me, and I don't think it should depend on the country. Similarly to what JuliMaruchan said, "Tom suggested I looked for another job," sounds like Tom is suggesting I had already looked for another job.

In another example, you could say "The waiter in the hotel recommended we try the scallops."
"The waiter in the hotel recommended we tried the scallops," again doesn't make sense because it sounds like you you had already eaten the scallops before he told you to try them.

If you think about it, using the subjunctive with verbs of advice, recommendation, suggestion etc makes perfect sense because by definition those actions have not been done yet. They have been given as suggestions for future actions, but don't happen at the same time as the suggestion or recommendation, so you could say using the past tense for both of them should sound wrong because i) the actions weren't done at the same time, ii) the suggested action might never be done, and iii) there is no suggestion of intention, only action.
 
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