Had better (‘d better)
We use had better to give strong advice or to tell someone (including ourselves) what to do.
- I‘d better go home. It’s getting late.
- You‘d better tell mum what happened before she finds out.
Had better often implies that something negative will happen if something is not done and it often sounds like a threat or a warning.
- He‘d better give me my money back or he’ll be in trouble.
- You‘d better behave yourself if you don’t want me to get really angry.
The word had is a past verb form, but the expression had better is only used to talk about the immediate future.
- You‘d better call me soon. I’ll be worried.
After had better we need to use infinitive without to.
- I‘d better take a look. (NOT I’d better
Had better not (‘d better not) is the negative form of had better.
- You‘d better not say a word about this.
- I‘d better not forget.
In spoken English we normally use the short form ‘d better. And in informal speech, people sometimes say just better (without had).
- You better go home.
- I better get it right this time.
Had better vs should
We often use should to give advice, to say that something is a good thing. And we use had better to express urgent advice or a warning, with bad consequences if you don’t follow it.
- You should try the cake. It’s delicious.
- He‘d better hurry up or he’ll miss the cake.
We can use it’s time + to + infinitive or it’s time for someone + to + infinitive to say that someone should do something now or in the future.
- It’s time for you to go to the doctor.
- It’s time to take a decision.
We can also use it’s (about) time + subject + past simple to say that someone should do something now or in the future.
- It’s time you went to the doctor.
- I really think it’s high time you made a decision. We can’t go on like this any longer.
Note that we use the past in this form, but we are talking about the future.
We often use this form to complain or criticise.
- It’s time you paid me what you owe me.
- It’s about time you started looking for a job.