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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.
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  • 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).
    – TimR
    Dec 10, 2017 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, 2017 at 5:39
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    @Readin He's saying that without "had" it is as incorrect as saying "ain't". Dec 11, 2017 at 12:20
  • I suppose you could argue that better is becoming a modal verb. Many speakers use it like should.
    – TimR
    Dec 11, 2017 at 12:47
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo So basically "You better study"="You should study" by many speakers? Dec 11, 2017 at 13:31

1 Answer 1

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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.

"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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