• 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
  • 1
    @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

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


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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