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Which of the following is a grammatically CORRECT sentence?

A) You had better told her everything, or else you will lose a friend.

B) You had better told her everything, or else you would lose a friend.

C) You had better tell her everything, or else you will lose a friend.

D) You better had tell her everything, or else you will lose a friend.

E) You better had tell her everything, or else you would lose a friend.

So, the answer here is (C). I don't understand why WILL is right and WOULD is wrong. Explain please.

Also, why is HAD BETTER TOLD wrong?

Edit - Wow, the more I'm reading into it. The more everything sounds right. What the hell?

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  • A, B, D, and E all sound incorrect by the time you reach the first comma. They all have mixed tenses. For A and B - "You had better" is looking to the future while "told" is in the past. For D and E - "had" is in the past while "tell" isn't. C is the only answer where the entire sentence has a matching tense.
    – mjjf
    Commented Dec 1, 2020 at 6:44
  • Yes; here, 'You had better told her…' will always be wrong. Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 1:35
  • Before I fall into setting out Answers that aren't justified by the Question, why have you shown no research but merely demanded Answers? Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 1:38

2 Answers 2

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"Had better", despite the "had", is not a perfect, and cannot be followed by a past participle. It must be followed by the base form of the verb.

(Don't try to analyse "had better" grammatically: it's a frozen form with obsolete grammar).

The reason for will rather than would is that this is not hypothetical: think of had better as the same as should or ought to. You will lose a friend is a prediction of what will happen if you don't tell her everything, not a hypothetical.

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"had better told" is wrong because it uses two different tenses in a single phrase: "had better" implies future action, whereas "told" is past tense. Likewise "would" is not concrete when used in future tense. When talking about the future, "would" means a willingness to do something or a hypothetical, as opposed to "will", which is a prediction or statement that something is definitely going to happen.

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