And when you’re drinking processed fruit juice, you’re also missing out on the healthy benefits of eating real fruit itself such as the fiber and vitamins. So you better off going back to eating that apple rather than drinking a bottle of apple juice.
(Aussie Channel Nine)

When I hear Conversational Deletion in novels, I wouldn’t think it twice. But for the example, a doctor seems to use it while saying about an authoritative mention in a TV program. Can even an expert use the expression in his official place?

  • 3
    Here's how I hear it: "And when you're drinking processed fruit juice, you're also missing out on the health benefits of eating real fruit itself, such as the fiber and the vitamins" (it sounds like two clips were cut together here) "so you're better off going back to eating that apple rather than drinking a bottle of apple juice."
    – user230
    May 17, 2013 at 3:07
  • 2
    I'm sorry, but what the heck is an "official place"?
    – Martha
    May 17, 2013 at 4:12
  • I don't see any conversational deletion here. What is it you think is missing? May 17, 2013 at 15:10
  • @KenB: I'm surprised that people are downvoting what seems to me a very real problem for non-native speakers - who can't reliably differentiate contexts where a speaker deliberately chooses to delete/omit words, as opposed to contexts where the speaker places so little stress on a word that it may be "unheard" (and perhaps effectively "unspoken", though not deliberately). I assume OP wonders whether his speaker is consciously aware of not actually saying the word are, and considers this "grammatically acceptable" in speech. I further assume OP is mistaken. May 17, 2013 at 18:22
  • Is "are" really the supposed deletion? @Listenever, can you weigh in? May 17, 2013 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


As @snailboat comments, OP is mishearing you're better off... (contracted form of you are better off).

Note that the speaker happens to use present tense here. But he could just as naturally use future tense (so you will be better off) or conditional (so you would be better off). In rapid speech both of these may be indistinguishable from so you be better off - but since native speakers know perfectly well that neither this nor OP's version are valid, they simply don't hear it like that at all (it's not what they expect).

In none of these cases do the speakers themselves normally think they're "deleting" words. It's important to note that OP's speaker pronounces you with the neutral vowel . This is a clear indication that he's likely to enunciate unimportant/predictable speech elements very weakly - possibly so weakly that they "disappear" to a non-native speaker who doesn't know what to expect/assume.

The moral of this is you should be very careful of assuming an unusual grammatical form when you seem to hear it in speech. If you can't find any written examples showing that native speakers recognise the words as you think you're hearing them, you may have got it wrong.

OP's particular example would rarely if ever occur in print, but it's worth pointing out that my "rapid speech future tense" version often would. But in fact even that would never be intended to reflect a competent standard English speaker - it would normally be intended to convey that the speaker had a rustic/country dialect (or be in unrelated contexts such as "How will you be better off if you do that?").

  • Why does the link for "rustic/country dialect" (the one on the last line) take to a page explaining the meaning of Doric?
    – apaderno
    May 17, 2013 at 12:52
  • @kiamlaluno: Because doric is an (admittedly, archaic) term for rustic/country dialect, as given in that link. If you read that someone said "You be better off doing that", for example, you can be reasonably certain the writer intends you to understand that the speaker is some kind of stereotypical uneducated country bumpkin. A non-native speaker might not catch the intervening would, 'd, will, 'll in an educated speaker's rapid speech, but writers would probably never wish to convey that anyway (It's irrelevant, and would inevitably be misunderstood by the reader). May 17, 2013 at 14:04

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