LINGUIST List 6.985

Tue Jul 18 1995

Sum: Had better

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  1. hiro-t, Sum: had better

Message 1: Sum: had better

Date: Tue, 18 Jul 1995 16:40:36 Sum: had better
From: hiro-t <>
Subject: Sum: had better

Dear Linguists,
 On behalf of my friend, I asked you to check the sentences about
_had better not_, _had better not_, etc. Here are his summary below.
 At the end of May, I raised a query about the acceptability of the
following sentences.
 (1) You hadn't better stay here tonight.
 (2) You had not better stay here tonight.
 (3) A: I promise I'll pay you back. B: You better had.
To my surprise, soon after my posting, I got as many as 64 reposes.
Thank you very much for answering my query. I hadn't expected so may
people were interested on this matter. I think I should mention all
the names and e-mail addresses, but there are far too many to mention.
If you feel this is inadequet, please email to Prof. Tanaka to write
your names on the list. I will immediately prepare for writing your
names. The result of the inquiry is as follows:
 (1) (2) (3)
 OK 10 0 12
 ? 15 5 3
 * 39 59 49
About two thirds of the respondents refused these usages and I can also
add that these usages varies geometrically, especially British English,
it seemed to me.
 I also asked for a few sentences using _It (or This) had better...
Examples (4), (5) and (6) below are typical instances of _had better_
with inanimate subjects:
 (4) It had better not rain tomorrow or we can't got to the beach.
 (5) I spent all day working on the TV. It had better work now.
 (6) Joe: I can explain why I am late. Jane: This had better be good
Some people say that _This had better be good_ is a cliche and in (6) it
implies the speaker kas expectations that the excuse will be fanciful
or just plain untrue.
 I would like to thank again to all the people who reponded. If you
had any comments on this matter, please email through Prof. Tanaka to me.
Best Wishes,
Hiroaki Tanaka, Associate Professor, Tokushima University, Japan
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