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ほうがいい

ほうがいい

ほうがいい Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Phrase

Essential Meaning: X had better do Y

Construction: 

  • Verb informal past + ほうがいい
    • E.g. はなしたほうがいい [X had better speak]
    • E.g. べたほうがいい [X had better eat]

Notes:

  • ほうがいい expresses the idea that it is strongly suggested that someone do something (e.g. “You had better study harder” or “Matt had better eat his vegetables“). ほうがいい represents a strong suggestion rather than a command.
  • When the speaker gives a strong suggestion to a second person subject (e.g. “You had better do X.”) the subject is typically omitted. The subject is also generally omitted if the sentence is interrogative and the subject is the first person (e.g. “Is it better if I did X?“). When the subject is a third person (e.g. “John had better do X.“), the subject is usually not omitted.
    • E.g. First Person Subject: もうかえったほうがいいですか。[Had I better go home now?]
    • E.g. Second Person Subject: 野菜やさいべたほうがいいよ。[You’d better eat vegetables too.]
    • E.g. Third Person Subject: クリスはもっと英語えいご勉強べんきょうしたほうがいいね。[Chris had better study English harder.]
  • Verb informal nonpast (i.e. するほうがいい) can be used instead of verb informal past (i.e. したほうがいい) to convey a weaker suggestion.
    • E.g. 日本語にほんごほんむほうがいい。[You should read a Japanese book.]
  • To convey a negative suggestion (e.g. “You’d better not do X”), ないほうがいい can be used. In this case, the verb must be in the nonpast tense.
    • E.g. コーヒーをまないほうがいい。[You’d better not drink coffee.]
    • E.g. *コーヒーをまなかったほうがいい。[It would’ve been better if you hadn’t drunk coffee.] This sentence is ungrammatical because ほうがいい cannot be used with a negative past predicate.

Example Sentences:

もうかえったほうがいいですか。[Had I better go home now?]

野菜やさいべたほうがいいよ。[You’d better eat vegetables too.]

クリスはもっと英語えいご勉強べんきょうしたほうがいいね。[Chris had better study English harder.]

日本語にほんごほんんだほうがいい。[You’d better read Japanese books.]

WILD Examples:

Listen to this line from 0:24: 「ありがとう」っていう気持きもちと、「ごめんなさい」っていう気持きもちはちゃんとつたえたほうがいいよね、正直しょうじきになれるかな [We had better express feelings such as “thank you” and “sorry”, we can become honest]
Listen to this line from 0:30: 勉強べんきょうはしないよりもしておいたほうがいい [Rather than not studying, you had better study.]

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