Recommendations, Part Two

Reading audio

13 July 2023

Imagine you want to ask for information. Perhaps you are looking for a good restaurant, a nice hotel, or a fun activity. How should you ask your question?

In this week's Everyday Grammar, we continue our exploration of recommendations. We will learn about important question words. And you will get a chance to practice what you learn.

Let's start with some important terms and ideas.


In a recent Everyday Grammar lesson, we talked about the question word "which." We learned how to use it to ask for a recommendation – a suggestion about a choice or an activity.

But we can also use other question words to ask for recommendations. "Where" and the verb BE are two nice choices. Let's explore each of these in turn.


Imagine you are in a new city. You might ask a friend the following question:

"Where can I find a good restaurant?"

Our question word "where" begins the sentence. It tells the listener that you are asking for a location. Then we have the modal verb "can," followed by the subject and main verb "I find."

This structure is very common and useful. It is a phrase to memorize. You should be able to produce it without much thinking.

"Where can I find..." is followed by a noun phrase. The exactness of this noun phrase can affect the quality of the answer that you receive.

Consider this example.

"Where can I find a restaurant?"

In the question, "Where can I find..." is followed by the noun phrase "a restaurant."

The question is very general. The listener will probably give you the first answer that comes to mind.

But we are likely to get a better answer if we ask something like this:

"Where can I find a good restaurant?"


"Where can I find a good, inexpensive restaurant?"

In both of these examples, we expand our noun phrase to include adjectives such as "good" and "inexpensive." We are giving the listener a little more information, and, as a result, we will probably receive a better answer.

The listener is more likely to give you a good recommendation when you ask a more exact question.

So, for example, if you love Indian food, you might ask:

"Where can I find a good Indian restaurant?"

The verb BE

"Where" is one nice question word to use, but the verb BE is also useful. We use it to ask what are called "yes or no" questions. That means a question could be answered with a simple "yes" or a "no."

For example, if you are looking for a hotel, you could ask someone:

"Is there a nice hotel in this area?"

This question consists of the verb BE, the word "there," as well as the noun phrase "a nice hotel." Please note that additional information about location might be required. That is why our question included "in this area."

Now imagine that you are looking for a good restaurant. How might you ask about it?

Here is one possibility:

"Is there a good restaurant near here?"


Let's take some time to work with these ideas.

Use the word "where" to ask about the noun phrase, "a good bookstore."

Pause the audio to consider your answer.

Here is one answer:

"Where can I find a good bookstore?"

Now use the verb BE to ask about a bookstore. Be sure to ask about location by using the phrase "near here."

Pause the audio to consider your answer.

Here is one answer:

"Is there a good bookstore near here?"

Closing thoughts

The ideas we explored today are a useful way to indirectly get a recommendation. If you take what you have learned today and combine it with the ideas in our earlier report, you will soon be asking for recommendations in English with ease.

I'm John Russell.

John Russell wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story

recommendation – n. the act of saying that something is good and deserves to be chosen

practice -- v. to do something again in order to become better at it

phrase – n. a group of two or more words that express a single idea but do not usually form a complete sentence