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You had better help me!

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You had better help me!

Postby tanuki » Sat 05.12.2007 11:06 pm

Hello, people!

It was not long ago (just a few years ago) that I learned the expression "had better" in English. As in "You had better tell me why are you coming home this late, young woman!".

I don't want the same to happen in Japanese (i.e. years without knowing how to express this), so that's why I'm asking right now.

The only thing I know that comes close is べき. Does べき has that menacing tone that "you had better" has? When I hear someone saying "you had better blah blah" I hear "if you don't, I'll &%#@ you!". ("If you don't tell me, young woman, there's no allowance next week!")

Or is there another structure that's menacing enough? You had better tell me! :D
Last edited by tanuki on Sat 05.12.2007 11:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: You had better help me!

Postby flammable hippo » Sat 05.12.2007 11:13 pm

I've normally taken v+た方がいい to mean "had better" as in 病院に行ったほうがいいでしょう-you had better go to a hospital.

べき I've taken to mean "is supposed to" or "should" 何か買う前に必要かどうかよく考えるべきですよ-you should(are supposed to) think well about whether or not something is important before you buy it and  試験を通るために一生懸命勉強すべきです-in order to pass the test you should study really really hard.  
Two muffins were baking in an oven. One turns to the other and says "sure is hot in here." The other replies "AH TALKING MUFFIN!"

二つのマフィンがオーブンで焼かれていた。片方のマフィンがもう一方のマフィンに向かって、"暑いね”と言った。すると、話しかけられたほうのマフィンは"アッ!喋るマフィンだ!”と驚いた。 :)
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RE: You had better help me!

Postby tanuki » Sat 05.12.2007 11:20 pm

I also thought of +た方がいい, but I thought that was more like a suggestion, not as "menacing".

Maybe there's not an exact Japanese equivalent? (Or am I wrong?)
Last edited by tanuki on Sat 05.12.2007 11:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: You had better help me!

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 05.12.2007 11:24 pm

方がいい is not strong enough for English "You had better." "You had better" is only used in cases where not doing what is suggested will result in some sort of penalty, mishap, etc. So "You'd better go to the hospital [or you might get even sicker" is fine. So is "You'd better do your homework [or I will punish you]." But "You'd better try the fish" is strange.
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RE: You had better help me!

Postby flammable hippo » Sat 05.12.2007 11:26 pm

Maybe there's not an exact Japanese equivalent?


I think maybe. I'm stumped as to coming up with something that has that same "I'll f*ck you up if you don't" meaning. Maybe if one uses ta +hou ga ii but says it in a harsher tone it might come out similar, just like in English it could be considered a suggestion or a repremand depending on the tone of voice. Perhaps a more "masculine" ending particle like zo or something stuck at the end could work.

Oo...I just got an idea while typing. Maybe the regular imperative form, although slightly different could work. Like 宿題をしろ!-do your homework! or You had better do your homework dammit!
Last edited by flammable hippo on Sat 05.12.2007 11:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Two muffins were baking in an oven. One turns to the other and says "sure is hot in here." The other replies "AH TALKING MUFFIN!"

二つのマフィンがオーブンで焼かれていた。片方のマフィンがもう一方のマフィンに向かって、"暑いね”と言った。すると、話しかけられたほうのマフィンは"アッ!喋るマフィンだ!”と驚いた。 :)
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RE: You had better help me!

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 05.12.2007 11:30 pm

宿題をしなさい sounds very motherly-command, sort of like "you'd better do your homework"
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RE: You had better help me!

Postby Gundaetiapo » Sat 05.12.2007 11:31 pm

Do the いけない or だめ constructions not work for this purpose?
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RE: You had better help me!

Postby Tspoonami » Sat 05.12.2007 11:46 pm

It is an interesting point that when you use the phrase 'you had better,' you can follow the independent clause with a second one that gives further explanation (i.e., You had better go to the hospital [or you will get worse]). In this way, the phrase doesn't have as much of the strong imperative meaning, but more of an implication of a strong meaning (without actually saying it). This leads me to wonder if you could do this:

You had better go to the hospital.
病院に行かなければ

But the Japanese seems a tad stronger. Hmm... I do doubt that there is an exact equivalent; it would vary with context.
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RE: You had better help me!

Postby Mike Cash » Sun 05.13.2007 4:25 am

You're looking for something just exactly between a suggestion and a command. You're very close with the 〜た方がいい idea.

Verb+がいい.

黙っているがいい

You can also use verb+ことだ, which is just as insistent while not being as threatening, I think. You can sometimes find this style on signs and such, whereas you would not the former.
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RE: You had better help me!

Postby Sunken » Sun 05.13.2007 6:46 am

Can you exchange the いい in 〜方がいい with something more explicit implying the penalty for refusing, such as 〜方が健康 or something similar, or am I thinking too literally?
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RE: You had better help me!

Postby tanuki » Sun 05.13.2007 7:33 am

Ah, various approximations. By the way:

Mike Cash wrote:
Verb+がいい.

黙っているがいい


I thought in this expression the verb was supposed to be in the past form. Is it the same keeping it in the present/future or does it have a different meaning?
Last edited by tanuki on Sun 05.13.2007 7:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: You had better help me!

Postby Mike Cash » Sun 05.13.2007 9:19 am

tanuki wrote:
Ah, various approximations. By the way:

Mike Cash wrote:
Verb+がいい.

黙っているがいい


I thought in this expression the verb was supposed to be in the past form. Is it the same keeping it in the present/future or does it have a different meaning?


Yes, please not that the 方 is not there, hence we're dealing with a different animal here.
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RE: You had better help me!

Postby richvh » Sun 05.13.2007 9:31 am

How does Verb+がいい differ from Verb+べきだ?
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RE: You had better help me!

Postby tanuki » Sun 05.13.2007 6:21 pm

Mike Cash wrote:
tanuki wrote:
Ah, various approximations. By the way:

Mike Cash wrote:
Verb+がいい.

黙っているがいい


I thought in this expression the verb was supposed to be in the past form. Is it the same keeping it in the present/future or does it have a different meaning?


Yes, please not that the 方 is not there, hence we're dealing with a different animal here.


Whoops, I didn't notice there was no 方 there.

Well then, my thought is: I thought you had to use a nominalizer (の/こと) in order to directly modify a verb. I guess this is a special case?
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RE: You had better help me!

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 05.13.2007 6:50 pm

It's a holdover from classical Japanese, where a certain conjugation of a verb could act as a noun with nothing after it.
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