I was wondering if in the following sentence:

  • I know you're mad that I won't let you eat candy for dinner, sweetheart, but it's for your own good.

we can substitute the bold part for:

this is in your best interest.

Actually I know the meaning of both idioms, but both mean the same to me; however, I have my doubts whether the same goes to you as native speakers or there is another story there!

PS. in contrary cases we say:

  • It is not in your best interest.

Can we say instead:

  • It is not for your own good.

Do they make a good sense to you?

Please kindly enlighten me.

  • 1
    In British English we usually pluralise interests in such contexts, whereas AmE favours the singular. Nov 17, 2020 at 13:08
  • Yes FFRM you are exactly right. I found that out.
    – A-friend
    Nov 17, 2020 at 13:11

2 Answers 2

  • For your own good
  • In your best interest

As you say, they mean pretty much the same thing, but they are not always interchangeable.

"In your best interest" is more likely to be used for some action you carry out on someone's behalf. We speak about "acting in one's best interest".

"For your own good" is more likely to be used if you were physically giving someone something - for example, if you gave someone some medication that they didn't want. The medicine itself is for their good, although you might say that the act of giving it to them was in their interest.

"Not in your best interest" is a correct negation of the phrase.

We would not say "it isn't for your own good" - who's good is it for, then? An alternative phrase would be "it would be to your detriment", or less formally "it wouldn't be good for you".

  • Well, If I'm not mistaken, "this is not in your own good" and "This is in your best interest" are not considered the correct registers of the expressions. Do you confirm @Astralbee?
    – A-friend
    Nov 17, 2020 at 12:58
  • 1
    There's nothing wrong with "this is in your best interest", so long as "this" refers to an action. Like my example of medicine - how can a medicine itself be in someone's interest? But the act of giving it someone can be. "Not in your own good" doesn't make sense, as I've said in my answer. If something isn't in my own good, who's good is it for?
    – Astralbee
    Nov 17, 2020 at 13:02
  • 1
    Whether it makes sense or not, "[not] in your own good" is not idiomatic in any context. But it's perfectly possible to contrive contexts where not for your own good is a reasonable thing to say: You're doing this not for your own good, but for the benefit of the community. Nov 17, 2020 at 13:12
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica That's a good point and an interesting use of the idiom, although it is essentially the same as saying "you're not doing this for your own good" and I feel it confuses the point of the question.
    – Astralbee
    Nov 17, 2020 at 13:23
  • 1
    OP's first comment under your question cited that non-idiomatic preposition usage - which you misleadingly dismissed as "not making sense", where actually it's just the "wrong" preposition. I also think it might help OP to be made aware of the not insignificant difference it makes to include the emphatic optional possessive own in some of the examples. Nov 17, 2020 at 13:58

The meaning is the same as far as I am concerned. The register is different: "for your own good" is familiar, "in your best interests" is formal.

Apart from that the usage is slightly different.

It is not in your best interest

It's okay to use the negative but in the UK we usually pluralise and say, "interests"

EDIT Please see the comment by @FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica concerning US usage.

It is not for your own good.

We do not usually negate this expression.

We might say, "it's bad for you".

  • According to your statements @chasly-supports Monica I think "in one's best interest" is usually used in negative form and "for one's own good" is often used in positive form. Hence, instead of saying "it's bad for you" we can say: "it is not in your best interest" although it would be a formal sentence. Do you agree?
    – A-friend
    Nov 17, 2020 at 13:09
  • Didn't you used to be "Chasly from the UK"? Americans usually use singular interest in such contexts - it's only BrE that pluralises it. Nov 17, 2020 at 13:15
  • @FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica - Yes. Thanks for the correction. I'll mention it in my answer. Nov 17, 2020 at 13:16
  • 1
    @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica I'm in the UK and I wouldn't pluralise it. I would see that as a mistake.
    – Astralbee
    Nov 17, 2020 at 13:27
  • 2
    @Astralbee: According to NGrams, in American English, singular is twice as common as plural. But in British English, plural is at least three times more common than singular. Because of unavoidable misclassifications, BrE is usually underrepresented for recent text, so the reality is even more skewed. Nov 17, 2020 at 13:50

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