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  • We had better get out of here before they see us.

Is "had" absolutely necessary here? Will the sentence be correct without "had":

  • We better get out of here before they see us.
  • Some speakers say "We better {VERB}" but they would also be likely to say ain't. I take the tense as a backshift reflecting the exhortation (a preterite of modal remoteness). – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 10 '17 at 14:36
  • Every sentence needs a verb. had is the verb in your sentence, so you need it if you want the sentence to be grammatically correct. Beyond that I can't help you. Maybe the comment @Tᴚoɯɐuo is right but I don't understand what he's saying. – Readin Dec 11 '17 at 5:39
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    @Readin He's saying that without "had" it is as incorrect as saying "ain't". – SovereignSun Dec 11 '17 at 12:20
  • I suppose you could argue that better is becoming a modal verb. Many speakers use it like should. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 11 '17 at 12:47
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo So basically "You better study"="You should study" by many speakers? – SovereignSun Dec 11 '17 at 13:31
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There is a difference between descriptive grammar and prescriptive grammar. Descriptive grammar tells you how English is used. Prescriptive grammar tells you how most well-educated people believe it should be used.

"We better" is wrong according to prescriptive grammar because the sentence doesn't have a verb.

"We better" is fine according to descriptive grammar because many native speakers say it.

So if you are trying to pass a TOEFL, write an academic essay or research paper, or do anything else where you want to appear to be well-educated, you had better include the "had" in your sentence.

By Googling it, I find support: https://ruthlesseditor.com/you-better-vs-you-had-better/

When you are suggesting that someone should or ought to do something, the correct was to say it is had better

https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/threads/109638-You-better-or-You-d-better

For people speaking carefully, the "d" is there, but it gets "swallowed" in fast speech.

Make sure you keep it in your writing.

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