Should vs. Had Better – Confusing English Words

Michael Confusing Words 2 Comments


New York City is an exciting place. If you haven’t come here yet, I think you should consider it. If you do come, I can give you a lot of suggestions and advice. For instance, everyone who visit’s the Big Apple should go to Central Park. If you’re a smoker, you had better not smoke there, because smoking is illegal in NYC parks. For awesome shopping, you should check out SOHO, and of course if you want to eat amazing pizza, you should got to Lombardi’s. You had better remember to bring cash, because they don’t take credit cards there.

For today’s English lesson, I want to show you the difference between the modal verbs should and had better. Have a look at the paragraph above once more, then take a look at the lesson.

Should has a variety of meanings and uses, but the basic meaning that I want you to know for today’s lesson is I think it’s a good idea. We use should this way when we want to give a suggestion. The grammar is should + base verb:

  • For awesome shopping, you should check out SOHO. I think shopping in SOHO is a good idea.
  • When you come to NYC, you should go to Central Park.
  • You should go to Lombardi’s if you want to eat amazing pizza.

Had better basically is used in English to give a warning. It means that if you don’t follow the warning given with had better, something bad will happen. The grammar is had better + base verb:

  • You had better not smoke there, because smoking is illegal in NYC parks. If you smoke, the police will give you a ticket.
  • It’s a cold day, so you had better dry your hair before going outside. If you don’t, you’ll catch a cold.
  • Bob’s doctor told him that he had better stop smoking.

Be careful! Some students use the infinitive after had better, but this is not correct:

  • You had better to finish your homework on time.

If you know anyone who might be interested in this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them. Thanks for studying today!

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