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Consider this example:

John: Did you go to church today?

James: Yes I Did

John: You better did

My confusion is the use of and correctness of the the last response, "you better did."

Is this correct and which is the correct way to put that?

  • "You better have" would make more sense...at least in the Northwest. – Andrey Nazarchuk Aug 16 '16 at 0:30
  • How about “I hope so”? But seriously, the question is going to be awkward. Since your question is in the simple past tense, I don’t think there is a construction which would do the job directly. Most of the answers involve something like “You’d better have”, which would be most correct, but, technically you’re suddenly switching into a past perfect, which would better answer a question like “Have you gone to Church today?”. @AndreyNazarchuk: the present perfect tends to push the question and response closer to the preset. Just my thoughts on the matter. – Manngo Aug 17 '16 at 12:10
27

It is not correct in formal English, which requires You'd better have (in BrE You'd better have done would also be acceptable).

But this sort of threatening you'd better have is not the sort of thing you're likely to encounter in formal English. You'll occasionally hear "better did" in speech: it's an ironic ungrammaticalism that emphasizes your doubt that your interlocutor in fact did do what he claims to have done. Think of it like this:

You'd better "did".

  • 7
    I have never heard "better did" in this usage in my life—not even informally. It just sounds illiterate. "You'd better have," yes. Note that the "had" can be dropped and usually is: "You better have" sounds the most natural to me, and perfectly literate although definitely informal. (This matches the usage notes in the New Oxford American Dictionary, so it's not only my opinion.) – Wildcard Aug 15 '16 at 20:17
7

"You'd better did" is grammatically wrong. I'm unaware of this usage, but it sounds like a regionalism -- or at least a rural expression. "You'd better had" is grammatical but not common. I think "You'd better have" isn't correct. Either one is hardly ever heard. I think most people would say "That's lucky" or "Lucky for you." "You had better" might be heard, perhaps, but it doesn't mean the same thing. However,in practice it would probably be understood all right. "You'd better did" is an incorrect form of "You had better have done," which is far too fancy a construction for ordinary speech

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    I say "You'd better have" ( actually "You better've" (pronounced "You better of") would be the literal translation) all the time. It's probably the most common empty threat I use to make sure my kids do their chores. Come to Texas, I'll teach you! – Kyle Hale Aug 15 '16 at 15:26
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    How does "that's lucky" mean the same as "You had better have done"? – Blorgbeard Aug 15 '16 at 23:05
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    @Blorgbeard It threw me for a moment, too, but the second phrase, "Lucky for you," implies that something bad would have happened if they hadn't done what they ought. That said, it connotes that you believe the person. You might have some suspicion, but you're going to trust them for now. "You'd better have," though, conveys a much stronger level of doubt. – jpmc26 Aug 15 '16 at 23:24
  • "You'd better have" is grammatical because it's grammatical to elide stuff that follows a modal verb once the context is known. For example, "Have you been to church?" "Yes, I have [been to church]", "You had better have [gone to church]". – Steve Jessop Aug 16 '16 at 13:24
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Using "better" in this context isn't grammatically correct no matter how you conjugate the verb "do". Think of taking out "better" and just using the sentence "You have done." or "You had done." Those each would be grammatically correct, although both need to take some kind of object (what, exactly, was "done"?). If you reinsert "better" back into each sentence in its grammatically-correct place, you would end up with "You have done better." or "You had done better." This changes the intended meaning of the sentence entirely, implying that the subject could have done a better job of doing whatever it is he/she did.

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    Welcome to ELL, and thank you for your answer. We hope you will answer more questions, and ask some of your own. Your answer could be improved a little (the edit link allows you to do this) with a direct answer to the question What's wrong with "you better did?" – P. E. Dant Aug 15 '16 at 21:33
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    This isn't right. "You had better" have done something is a genuine English construction, meaning much the same as the more archaic past subjunctive "It were better had you" done something. It doesn't mean John went to church in a better way, it means the fact of John having been to church is better than the alternative (John having skipped church). But unlike "it were better" it also strongly implies John had an obligation, not just that the speaker prefers one rather than the other. – Steve Jessop Aug 16 '16 at 13:32

protected by J.R. Aug 16 '16 at 1:14

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