How does the first sentence differ from the second in the following sentences?

1) I had better zip my jacket up.

2) I better had zip my jacket up.

  • You had better. Apr 23, 2017 at 7:00
  • @ user178049 why, not the second one?
    – Gt_R
    Apr 23, 2017 at 7:01
  • 4
    It's an idiomatic and fixed expression. You cannot change it. Apr 23, 2017 at 7:02
  • 2
    There are circumstances in which the idiom better had can be used, but this is not one of them. It is to create emphasis. Were you to say to me "I had better zip my jacket up", if it were a bitterly cold day I might reply Yes, you better had. Otherwise normally it would be alright to say Yes, you had better. Q We are in a hurry, should we run? A. Yes, we had better would just mean it would be advisable. However Yes, we better had might imply one's lives depended on it.
    – WS2
    Apr 23, 2017 at 10:28
  • @WS2: It's true that when there are two ways of saying something, we often end up almost arbitrarily assigning some "less common meaning" to whatever seems to be the less common phrasing. But I've never been aware of anyone assigning additional emphasis to the very much less common sequence Yes, we better had do that or else we'll die. To me, it's just a very uncommon but insignificant "potentially optional inversion". Feb 19, 2022 at 16:34

4 Answers 4


The accepted form is had better do ... or 'd better do ...:

I had/I'd better zip my jacket up.

Sometimes, had is omitted:

I better zip my jacket up.

Your second sentence sounds unnatural to my ear.

Please refer to this answer on English Stackexchange.


Yes, it's "I had better". But according to No Country For Old Men (at 0:34), you could say it backwards to someone else...

Waitress: Can I freshen that there for you Sheriff?
Sheriff: Yeah, Maureen, you better had.

  • 1
    The Coen brothers love playing with language. The fact that some usage occurs in their movies doesn't necessarily imply that usage ever had any currency, but in this case there's no doubt that the inverted form You better had does in fact occur. But relatively speaking, it's extremely uncommon. My guess is the Coens knew perfectly well what thery were doing with that dialogue, where it's intended to imply a "folksy, idiosyncratic, rustic, frontier" context. Feb 19, 2022 at 16:40
  • Note this usage chart, where you better had is just a flat line underneath the standard version you had better. Feb 19, 2022 at 16:42
  • Yup, I think you're right. I just checked McCarthy's book and that dialogue isn't there. Also could have even been a Tommy Lee Jones mistake that got left in because it sounded so good.
    – Ben H
    Feb 20, 2022 at 16:42

You [I, we etc. )had better [do x] is the expression.

In response to someone saying that, to emphasize the idea, it can be reversed:

Person 1: We'd better leave right now.
Person 2: Yes, we better had.

However, you cannot use "better had" the expression in the first sentence, it would not make sense.

  • " Yes, we better had" It means that we should have done it but we didn't ? I mean this is implying regret? Or the same as "had better" this is present?
    – user141755
    Feb 19, 2022 at 18:04
  • 1
    @user48 Not regret: We better had. emphasizes We had better do x.
    – Lambie
    Feb 20, 2022 at 16:12

The first one is grammatically correct.

We use had better to give advice, or tell people what to do. 'Had better' is similar to 'should'.

You had (You'd ) better go home.

We had (We'd) better hurry up.

You had (You'd) better be on time.

I had (I'd) better take an umbrella.

Negative (had better not)- You had (You'd) better not go.

You had (You'd) better not be late.

Sometimes we leave out 'had' in conversation.

You better go.

You can visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eh8GS5bcfdk

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