You Had Better Meaning and Examples

“You had better’ is a very popular expression in conversational English. Let’s learn how to give advice in English using the semi-modal “had better”.

Had better sentences - meaning

“Had better” helps you give your opinion about what is good or bad in an influential manner. Unlike other forms of verbs used to give advice in English, “had better” includes an idea of a warning in it which makes it more influential.

You had better learn English.
You had better listen to your parents.

In the above two examples, you can see that there is an idea beneath it that if you do not follow my advice, something bad may happen. Therefore, “had better” generates very strong advice.

I’m very hungry. The class had better end soon.
He had better not drive fast today.

“had better” sentences also express a desperate hope of the speaker as in above two examples.

These sentences bring out the speaker’s desperate hopes on the happenings in the immediate future.

Had better – in Spoken English

When you use “had better” in spoken English, there is an impact of the tone of the speaker to suggest how bad the negative consequences would be.

You can sound as if you are threatening someone or giving someone a soft advice or recommendation depending on the intensity of your tone.

You had better switch off the fan when not in use.
You had better tell the truth.
She had better not be late to the meeting this time.

Had better do something – meaning

When we use “had better” it means It is advisable to do something in the present time or in the future time.

Most of the learners misunderstand this as an expression of past time. Even though “had” is a past simple auxiliary, “had better” refers to the present and future times.

You had better go to school by bus today to be there on time.
This refers to activities which have not yet taken place.

I had better meaning

“I had better” expresses that it is good for me to do something. The meaning here is more like a self-realization.

I had better go home now.
This sentence gives an idea that it would be better for the speaker to do something.

We had better meaning

“We had better” is an expression that suggests something to ourselves.

We had better go home before it rains.

As in the above example, the idea generated here is “It’s better for us to go home before it rains”.

In other words, it says; let’s go home before it rains.

It is a strong suggestion and also means that if we do not do so, we will have to regret it.

You had better meaning

“You had better” is an expression used to give advice to someone else.

“Had better” is similar to “should” to a certain extent. However, “had better” gives strong advice together with a sense of warning or recommendation to the listener.

You had better go to the office early tomorrow.
You had better talk to him nicely now.

Had better structure

Semi-modal (Had better) + base form of verb (infinitive)
  • Had better + read
  • Had better + run

The form of “had better” does not change according to the subject of the sentence.

I had better leave now.
You had better leave now.
She had better stay away from this.
We had better leave now.

Had is the past simple form of the auxiliary verb “have”. When it combines with “better”, it is considered a semi-modal which expresses the opinion of the speaker.

Hence, “had better” is not a verb which is number or person sensitive.

Singular Plural
I had better go home. We had better go home.
You had better go home. You had better go home.
He had better go home. They had better go home.
She had better go home.

Negative form of had better

  • You’d better not walk to school today. It’s going to rain.
  • You’d better not bother your parents.
  • They had better not deceive us this time.

Negative form of “had better” is very easy. You only have to add “not” after the semi-modal “had better”.

Eg: in a conversation

  • Are you working tomorrow?
  • I’d better not. I’m not well.
Singular Plural
I had better not bother your parents. We had better not bother your parents.
You had better not bother your parents. You had better not bother your parents.
He had better not bother your parents. They had better not bother your parents.
She had better not bother your parents.

Questions with “had better”

Question form of had better is not very common with certain nouns or pronouns.

However, there is rare usage with some of the pronouns like “we”.

  • Had we better eat fast?
  • Hadn’t we better work hard?

Sometimes, the negative question form is used.

  • Hadn’t you better finish this project today?
  • Hadn’t you better talk to him before it’s too late?

As in all the above examples “had” comes first and the subject comes between “had” and “better”.

Had better and the Tense

Had is the past form of the verb “have” but “Had better” does not give a past idea. It gives a present or future idea. It suggests or hopes for something good to happen or to do in the present time or in the future.

  • I had better go home now.
  • I had better sleep early today.
  • You had better go to school tomorrow.

You’d better meaning

You’d is the contracted form of “You had”. It is popularly used in the conversational language.

You’d better bring all the books to school tomorrow.
You had (You’d) better start reading the book today.

Correct use of had better

Eg 01
You had better drink enough water these days. – Correct
You had better drinking – wrong
You had better drank – wrong
You had better to drink – wrong
Eg 02
You’d better be happy with what you have for now. – correct
You’d better happy …. –wrong

Has better / will have better.- correct ?

There is no such form as “has better” or “will have better”. Instead, “had Better” is used with all the subjects in order to bring out present and future ideas.

You better – informal use.

In conversational language, some speakers drop “had” and say

  • “You better work hard” instead of
  • “You had better work hard”

Whereas, the correct grammatical use is “You had better work hard”.


Reported Speech

Reported Speech is a language pattern used to report to someone of what another person has said or thought.