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Propose and suggest mean virtually the same thing when they are used to mean "put forward a plan or idea for [someone] to think about":*

....We have to suggest/propose a list of possible topics for next term's seminars.... Might I suggest/propose that you offer your manuscript to Collins?*

Likewise, they may both be used when recommending a person for a certain position, or a place to visit: Helen has suggested/proposed Richard as the next chairman of the society....Can you suggest/propose somewhere for a short holiday?*

Propose, however, is more formal in style than suggest.

Only suggest can be used to mean "imply":

-- Are you suggesting (not proposing) that my professional reputation has been compromised?

Only suggest can be used to mean "indicate":

-- The findings suggest (not propose) that a deficiency of these nutrients can have serious consequences in later life

Propose, not suggest is used in certain expressions:

-- To propose (not suggest) a toast to someone
-- To propose (not suggest) [marriage] to someone

Propose is also used intransitively to mean "intend to do something":

-- He proposes (not suggests) to follow the Lewis and Clark trail for 500 miles

Marilyn Martin

*Adapted from Collins COBUILD English Language Dictionary (Collins, 1999)

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