Giving Advice

'Giving advice' actually refers to expressing your opinion about a particular thing. In this case, you express something could happen in a better way.

"How to Give" Advice In English

What Do We Mean by Giving Advice?

When we 'advise' somebody or something, we express disapproval toward them. This means we are judging whether something is good or bad. Here are some words that are used to express advice:

Using 'Can'

You can use the modal verb 'can' to express something is better to be done in a certain way. Look at the example to get its function.

You can go to college instead of playing these games all the time.

Bonney can put the camera in a different direction so the sun would not bother her.

Using 'Could'

Usually, the word 'could' is used as the past tense of the modal verb 'can.' In this case, we can use the modal verb 'could' to express our disapproval toward something in the past tense. We mean the event has happened and we cannot change it anymore.

You could find an answer if you searched via the internet.

He could be more careful to avoid the accident.

Using 'Should'

You can use the modal verb 'should' in the present and future tense to express your opinion and what you think about events that are happening or might happen in the future.

Honey! You should study or you will fail the exam.

Stephan should find a new job, teaching is really boring for him.

Using 'Might'

You can use the modal verb might to refer to a present or future time. In this case, you can express your disapproval of something.

Jeremy might go home before midnight.

You might be respectful to your teacher.

Using 'Should Have'

using 'might' to give advice

You use the phrase ('should have' + past participles) to criticize something that has happened in the past and now you cannot change it but you are just expressing your idea about it.

You should have called me when you were alone.

Your sister should have gotten divorced two years ago.

Using 'Could Have'

'Could have' is the same as should have. The only difference between them is that when you use the phrase 'could have' you are referring to some action that was possible to do.

The conference could have been taken place on Sunday.

Lexi could have talked to him before breaking up.

Using the Expression 'Why Did Not'

This expression is used a lot in conversations and everyday English. This expression is usually followed by a subjective pronoun. Check out the examples for more clarification:

Why didn't you change your bank account password?

Why didn't he do what his boss said?

Using 'Should not Have'

The phrase 'should not have' is usually used in the contracted form before 'past participles,' to express you think something has been done in a wrong way, or someone did something in a wrong way. However, you cannot change what happened now.

You shouldn't have cheated on the exam.

People shouldn't have refused to be vaccinated.

Using 'Might Have'

You can use the phrase 'might have' with a past reference before past participles to say something was better to be done in another way.

Patricia might have been kinder to her co-workers.

Toby might have spent his money in a more careful way.

Using 'Ought to'

Using the modal verb 'ought to' to give advice, whether in the present or past tense is considered less common. However, you have to know that it exists. Check out the examples.

You ought to have studied more.

You ought to talk to him in person.

Using 'Had Better'

'Had better' is a semi-modal verb that is used to give strong advice. This structure refers to the present tense.
'Had better' is followed by a bare infinitive and it is mostly used in contracted form.

You had better tell the truth or we cannot help you.

She had better give me my money.


Some modal verbs can be used to give advice. These modal verbs are: can, could, should have, could have, might, might have. Check out the table that shows the function of these verbs based on the tenses.

present past future
should have
could have
might have


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