Can I use the answer "It better." in this example?

'I'm sure your dedication to the job will pay off soon,' said John.

'It better,' replied his friend.

Is this dialogue correct?

I'm not sure where I found this (It better), but I guess it means something like, "It (my dedication) better pay off soon otherwise I'm gonna be in trouble". Or "It must pay off soon, after all I've been through".

Am I right?

  • 5
    A slightly less colloquial version would be "It had better [pay off soon]". with the sense "I hope it does, as I really need it to." It's 'correct' in that it is a realistic representation of very informal speech. May 9, 2021 at 16:38
  • 2
    You might actually hear imperative forms like You better do what I say, but it wouldn't usually be a good idea to write it like that (as @KateBunting points out, it should be You HAD better do it). Even if you're writing "casual" reported speech in a narrative context, you wouldn't normally want to explicitly reflect the fact that your (fictitious) speaker would be likely to omit that word. You'll just confuse your (real-world) reader for no benefit. May 9, 2021 at 17:07

1 Answer 1


Yes, this dialog is correct, and so is your interpretation. It reads smoothly to a native English speaker. "It had better" is more formal, but doesn't fit as well here.

  • I'd welcome a comment explaining the downvote(s).
    – jeffB
    May 9, 2021 at 18:54
  • Downvoters tend to prefer anonymity. But I don't think it's deserved either, even if your answer is rather brief, and the dialogue is possible rather than correct; so I've upvoted it. A more substantial answer would stand you in better stead. May 9, 2021 at 20:27

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