You are at a picnic and you want to advise others to keep the place clean:

1- you had better clean the place before you leave 2- you must clean the place before you leave.

From what I know, ‘had better’ is used to imply the negative consequences that are most likely to happen if the advice isn't followed. And the modal ‘must’ is used when there is an obligation to do something. Can someone please tell me which is more accurate to be used in the context provided.

  • Since you say you want to advise them to clean up after themselves, you should probably use had better, since that implies "recommendation". Saying must implies "obligation" (i.e. - you are ordering them to clear up). Nov 4, 2018 at 17:33
  • It depends on how harsh you wish to be.
    – Lambie
    Nov 4, 2018 at 18:18

1 Answer 1


If you want to advise, then say "You'd better ...". If you want to instruct then you can say "You must ..." (or "You'll have to ...").

So both your examples are correct, but mean different things. I would only use "must" if I was in a position of authority. For example a teacher might tell her students that they "must do their homework", or when describing an external obligation "We must pick up the litter, it's the law!"

You would normally "tidy up" and not "clean" the picnic area, since a picnic is outdoors, and you can't clean the soil, but you can tidy up.

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