Thanks to his contacts with politicians in Tehran, such as Kermani and Khalatbari, and with Ilkhanipour, the mayor of Kermanshah, he did better for a time.

The text is part of a story of a man who had to hide from officials because of his political activities. I don't understand the meaning of "did better for a time". I didn't find a meaning for "do better" in any reference.

2 Answers 2


When searching for the definition of a multi-word verb, try pre-pending "to"; I got excellent search results when I googled "to do better". This entry in MacMillan was especially interesting in that it lists multiple synonyms of "to do better"; hopefully a learner would be familiar with one or more, which would help to understand the original phrase.

Another solution is to break it down. You're faced with "do better", which is composed of two parts: the verb, "to do", and the adverb describing the verb, "better". "To do" we probably already understand, but to provide a short explanation... "To do [something]" means to perform a given action. "To do" alone describes someone/something's general state of being; ex. "to do well", "to do poorly", and your example "to do better".

If I am doing well, overall I am functioning at an above-average level. If I am doing poorly, I'm functioning at a below-average level. If I am doing better (implied: "than I was before"), I am currently functioning at a higher level than I was at some other point in the past.

So in your example, they're trying to say that his overall performance improved for a while (and I have a feeling the next sentence talks about how his performance ended up dropping again afterward!)


In this instance, the word "better" is the comparative of "well" (adverb). The comparison most likely is with how he "did" prior to the period about which this passage speaks. In other words, some time prior to that period he was probably not as successful. Then, with the help of his contacts, he became more successful, perhaps wealthier, more influential, whatever a person of his status considers as "doing".

The idiom "for a time" means "during a few weeks/months/years" (depending on the context different time units are supposed). It's not extremely important to convey the exact length of time, just to indicate that the duration was, as a matter of fact, limited. The end of that period is usually indicated by (or can be deduced from) the text that follows such a use.

Analogous idioms are "for a while" and "for the time being".


"He does well for himself." - meaning he likely enjoys the fruits of his labors.
"This time we did better because we had full crew." - meaning our performance was improved (compared to some previous performance).

"For a time he didn't speak." - some time passed during which he was silent (although had a reason to say something).

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