What's the correct construction?

Example sentence:

A bear! Better not (to) move or it would devour her.

Should the to be there? Why or why not?

  • 1
    WHY? - because the speaker assumes his "sentence" as given is short for something like It would be better not to [do something]. WHY NOT? - because he thinks it's short for something like I/We had better not [do something]. In short, both versions are fine, and it's a matter of personal choice which to use. Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 13:51
  • @FumbleFingers Won't you turn that into an answer? Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 14:51
  • @Ronald Sole: I'm still trying to figure out exactly why it would be feasible for me to respond to your comment with Better not! if I disagreed, whereas if I did agree it would be a complete no-no to respond with Better! Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 16:18

1 Answer 1


The "better not move" sentence seems like an imperative (you are commanding the other party---after all, there's a bear). Placing the "to" after the not sounds a bit awkward to my ear but it is less imperative, like a suggestion. Perhaps "It would be better not to move..." would be a way to rephrase the sentence if the bear were far away.

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