The most common ways of giving advice in English use ‘should,’ ‘could,’ ‘would,’ ‘ought to,’ or ‘must’:
It’s also possible to give indirect advice using questions like “Have you considered…?” or “What about…?”
There are many more examples of how to use these and other helping verbs at Using Helping Verbs to Give Advice.
This page suggests some other ways of giving advice and emphasizing what’s important. Then there’s a chance to practice using the expressions on both pages by completing a practice conversation between a discharge nurse and a patient. The practice conversation also demonstrates more of the common vocabulary and expressions English-speakers use to encourage someone to make changes.
There are many other ways to make suggestions in English, using ‘need to’, ‘had better’ (meaning you need to do it, or else there will be consequences) ‘have to’ (similar in meaning to ‘must’), ‘recommend, ’suggest’ or imperatives. Imperatives don’t require a subject. (“You” is implied.) Imperatives are mainly used for giving instructions (or orders) to someone under your authority, rather than for advice. However, friends and family members often use imperatives to each other as they are clear and fast:
(* ‘You’d better’ is a contraction for ‘you had better.’ ‘I’d’ is a contraction for I would. The ‘d can be a short for either ‘had’ or more often ‘would,’ depending on the context.)
‘Must’ is a very strong helping verb. Other ways to underline the importance of your advice include starting:
“Mr. Rodriguez, this medicine could damage your stomach. It’s essential to take it with food. If you start to feel stomach pain, be sure to call our office right away.”
or “Mr. Rodriguez, this medicine can cause stomach ulcers. You must always eat before you take it.It’s important to let us know right away if you begin to have stomach problems.”
Choose the correct helping verbs to complete this conversation. (Several have more than one possible answer, and you will need to use some more than once.)
can, could, do, have, must, ought to, should, will, would
For more practice using helping verbs to give advice (and to ask questions and give information) see Modals Practice. See Question Formation for examples of different kinds of questions used in health care settings.