What are the differences between these four sorts of constructs in a sentence, please?

You are better ...
you had better ...
You better ...
It's better [that] you ....

  • 3
    You had done better to include complete sentences. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 11 '18 at 18:35
  • I liked to make it an option for the responder. – Abbasi Jan 11 '18 at 18:39
  • 1
    This is far too broad. Besides which not all native speakers will agree on "acceptable" usages in this area. Personally, I don't find @Tᴚoɯɐuo's comment syntactically acceptable, upvotes notwithstanding. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jan 11 '18 at 19:13
  • As @Tᴚoɯɐuo suggests, you are better off providing details, as opposed to options, as is discussed at length in this meta post. – J.R. Jan 11 '18 at 19:26
  • FumbleFingers: It's seen its heyday, true, but it's not without contemporary attestations. (ignore the non-attestations) google.com/… – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 11 '18 at 19:52

You are better: A comparison phrase -- You are better at golf than I am.

You had better: This is a colloquial phrase meaning "you should" or "you must" or "I demand that you" (do something).

You better: Same as above, with a little less colloquial flavor. Used in common phrases like "You better believe it!" and "You better not!" (Don't do that!)

It's better [that] you: A more standard way of suggesting or demanding that you do something. A more perfect wording would be conditional: "It would be better if you (did this thing that I want)."

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  • 1
    You better believe it is: you (had) better believe it. It's shortened in colloquial form. – Lambie Jan 11 '18 at 20:20
  • 1
    It's better that you ... isn't really a demand but I agree that it's a suggestion. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 11 '18 at 20:27
  • One of the reasons I called it colloquial in the long form too is because I can't find a grammatical reason for using "had" when it's not a past perfect tense -- it's kind of a verbal pun almost -- you're referring to a future action and using a (form of) past tense. – user8356 Jan 11 '18 at 21:40
  • It is a form of irrealis, broadly construed, an urging or admonition, not a declaration of something you actually did. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 11 '18 at 23:36

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