Episode 32 – Should vs. Had Better – English Grammar Lesson

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Should and had better are two modal verbs in English that many learners are stuck on the meaning of. Today’s English lesson podcast shows you the difference between these two.

Here are the example sentences

With should:

  • For awesome shopping, you should check out SOHO. I think shopping in SOHO is a good idea.
  • When you come to NYC, you should go to Central Park.
  • You should go to Lombardi’s if you want to eat amazing pizza.

With had better:

  • You had better not smoke there, because smoking is illegal in NYC parks. If you smoke, the police will give you a ticket.
  • It’s a cold day, so you had better dry your hair before going outside. If you don’t, you’ll catch a cold.
  • Bob’s doctor told him that he had better stop smoking.
Yesterday’s listening challenge answer
  • One surprising fact about New York is that it has great beaches.
  • In New York you can shop, go sight seeing, and eat in great restaurants.
Today’s listening challenge question
  • When visiting NYC, where is one place you should visit and one thing you had better not do there?

Please feel free to write your answers in the comment box below.

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Should vs Had Better – Confusing English Words

Should vs Had Better – Confusing English Words

New York City is an exciting place. If you haven’t come here yet, I think you should consider it. If you do come, I can give you a lot of suggestions and advice. For instance, everyone who visit’s the Big Apple should go to Central Park. If you’re a smoker, you had better not smoke there, because smoking is illegal in NYC parks. For awesome shopping, you should check out SOHO, and of course if you want to eat amazing pizza, you should got to Lombardi’s. You had better remember to bring cash, because they don’t take credit cards there.

For today’s English lesson, I want to show you the difference between the modal verbs should and had better. Have a look at the paragraph above once more, then take a look at the lesson.

Should has a variety of meanings and uses, but the basic meaning that I want you to know for today’s lesson is I think it’s a good idea. We use should this way when we want to give a suggestion. The grammar is should + base verb:

  • For awesome shopping, you should check out SOHO. I think shopping in SOHO is a good idea.
  • When you come to NYC, you should go to Central Park.
  • You should go to Lombardi’s if you want to eat amazing pizza.

Had better basically is used in English to give a warning. It means that if you don’t follow the warning given with had better, something bad will happen. The grammar is had better + base verb:

  • You had better not smoke there, because smoking is illegal in NYC parks. If you smoke, the police will give you a ticket.
  • It’s a cold day, so you had better dry your hair before going outside. If you don’t, you’ll catch a cold.
  • Bob’s doctor told him that he had better stop smoking.

Be careful! Some students use the infinitive after had better, but this is not correct:

  • You had better to finish your homework on time.

If you know anyone who has trouble with this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them. Thanks for studying today!

Do you want to learn 365 American English Idioms? Get my book. You can download it here (a pdf) or get it for your mobile device or in paperback

 



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Free English Grammar Lesson: Can, Could, Be Able To, & Was Able To

Free English Grammar Lesson- Can, Could, Be Able To, & Was Able To

You can see a lot of amazing building in NYC!

People who visit New York City can see some pretty amazing sights. They are able to see some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world, dine at fine restaurants, and enjoy the best of Broadway. When I was younger I was able to see a musical for just $25, and a hot dog was just $1. Ah, the good old days.

Today I want to show you how we talk about ability in the present and the past. We use can, could, be able to, & was able to when we talk about ability in English. I think for most people, the present tense is easy to use and understand. I think we tend to use can when we talk about ability that we have because we have experienced, learned, practiced, or studied something

  • I can play the guitar.
  • Jack said he can cook.
  • Can you ride a motorcycle?
  • Danny can talk about history on and on. He’s an expert in it.

We also use can or be able to when we talk about our ability to do something when the conditions for doing so are favorable, and nothing is preventing us from doing that. Of course, we use the negative form when something is preventing us from doing something.

  • I am able to see Madison Ave from the window in my office.
  • I can see Madison Ave from the window in my office.
  • Jack said he’s not able to come to the party on Friday.
  • Jack said he can’t come to the party on Friday.

In a past sentence, we generally do not use could in a positive past tense sentence or question. It is more common to use was able to.

  • Luckily, I was able to find my wallet. Not, I could find my wallet.
  • Even thought I was tired, I was able to enjoy the party. Not, ~I could enjoy the party.
  • Were you able to help her with her homework? Not, Could you help her ~

However, in a negative past sentence, we use either couldn’t or wasn’t able to:

  • I looked, but I couldn’t find anything I liked at the store.
  • I looked, but I wasn’t able to find anything I liked at the store.
  • We couldn’t see David when we went to St. Louis.
  • We weren’t able to see David when we went to St. Louis.

Ok, now it’s your turn! How about trying your own original sentences using the comment box below?

If you know anyone who has trouble with this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them. Thanks for studying today!



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