Look at this sentence.
“I told George and Harris that they had better leave the whole matter entirely to me.”
The words had better are used
• in an advice or suggestion:
You had better take your umbrella; it looks like rain.
• in an order
You had better complete your homework before you go out to play.
• as a threat
You had better leave or I’ll have you arrested for trespass!
When we speak, we say you’d/I’d/he’d better, instead of you had better, etc.
Work in pairs to give each other advice, orders or suggestions, or even to threaten each other. Imagine situations like the following: Your partner
1. hasn’t returned a book to the library.
2. has forgotten to bring lunch.
3. hasn’t got enough change for bus fare.
4. has found out a secret about you.
5. has misplaced your English textbook.
1. (a) You had better return the book to the library or I will report the matter to the librarian. (threat)
(b) You had better return the book to the library before you get fined. (advice)
2. (a) You had better bring lunch every day; you seem to be losing weight. (advice)
(b) You had better not forget to bring your lunch again. (threat)
3. (a) You had better get enough change for the fare before boarding the bus. (order)
(b) You had better bring enough change for the bus fare; no one will buy you a ticket every day. (advice)
4. (a) You had better keep my secret to yourself. (order)
(b) You had better not reveal my secret to anyone or I too will disclose your secrets. (threat)
5. (a) You had better search for my English textbook thoroughly. (order)
(b) You had better buy a new English textbook for me; I need it to complete my holiday homework. (suggestion)
(Model answers have been provided for students' reference. It is strongly recommended that students prepare such answers on their own.)