“Come, Darcy,” said he, “I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance.”

  • had better a one of the ways to give an advice. Much here probably only for emphasis.
    – user178049
    Nov 24, 2016 at 23:23

2 Answers 2


"Had better" is an archaism which survives as an idiom. "You had better ..." (still) means "It would be better if you ... "

In current English, since it is an idiom, it doesn't really work to put extra words in; but in Austen's day its grammar was still current, and so it was a living expression, and could be varied, as here, by inserting an intensifier "You had much better " = "It would be much better if you ... ".

  • 1
    Hmmm... I'm familiar with the issue of fixedness in idioms, but this seems to "really" work, in Austen's time or yours and mine. Or am I out to freaking lunch? Nov 25, 2016 at 2:39
  • 1
    I find it a bit odd. YMMV.
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 25, 2016 at 12:37
  • 1
    "Had better" also survives as the lead-in to a threat: You had better do it if you know what's good for you.
    – MMacD
    Dec 30, 2016 at 21:18

This is a somewhat older way of saying what in modern English would be said as : It's better if you dance.

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