Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    nyota's Avatar
    nyota is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    626

    I don't think you'd better

    An excerpt from a book reads:
    I don't think you'd better consider it any more, Father.

    I was wondering how the above sentence differs from: I think you'd better not consider it any more (apart from the obvious i.e. phrasing). Is any of them more natural than the other? Does one of them put more stress on some notion the other doesn't?

    The sentence sounds like a polite threat to me, regardless of phrasing.

  2. #2
    Grumpy's Avatar
    Grumpy is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    959

    Re: I don't think you'd better

    "I don't think you'd better consider..." sounds a bit clumsy to me. It almost smacks of a double negative (It isn't, but you have to take a nano-second to confirm that). I would phrase it as in your second example, or, even more simply and hence more effectively, as "I don't think you should consider..".
    Because "I don't think you'd better consider..." is clumsy phraseology, I feel that it loses much of its force in persuading Father.
    Whether it can be construed as any form of threat would depend entirely on the context
    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

  3. #3
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,766

    Re: I don't think you'd better

    This is one of those rare occasions when I don't agree with Grumpy.

    I English we tend to negate the 'think' rather than the (more logical) situation. if the thought in our minds is 'Henry isn't coming', then we are more likely to say, 'I don't think Henry is coming' than 'I think Henry isn't coming'. Neither 'I don't think you'd better consider' nor 'I think you'd better not consider' is particularly elegant, but, in my opinion, the first is less unlikely.

  4. #4
    nyota's Avatar
    nyota is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    626

    Re: I don't think you'd better

    5jj, now that you came up with - I don't think Henry is coming - example, I clearly see the trend. Not sure why it sounds more natural to me as a negation than - I don't think you you'd better... - since, as you said, the mechanism is the same. Either way, Grumpy, 5jj, thank you for your contribution.

  5. #5
    probus's Avatar
    probus is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    5,825

    Re: I don't think you'd better

    [QUOTE=5jj;966995]This is one of those rare occasions when I don't agree with Grumpy.

    For me too, the same rare occasion. "I don't think you'd better" is to me pure AmE idiom, the stuff that every native speaker knows in his bones is right. It means "I'm telling you what you are proposing is not a good idea" and is often used without the direct object being specified. Can't wait to hear what BarbD, SoothingDave, gillnetter etc. think.

  6. #6
    Grumpy's Avatar
    Grumpy is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    959

    Re: I don't think you'd better

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    This is one of those rare occasions when I don't agree with Grumpy.

    I English we tend to negate the 'think' rather than the (more logical) situation. if the thought in our minds is 'Henry isn't coming', then we are more likely to say, 'I don't think Henry is coming' than 'I think Henry isn't coming'. Neither 'I don't think you'd better consider' nor 'I think you'd better not consider' is particularly elegant, but, in my opinion, the first is less unlikely.
    5jj
    Say it's not so!!

    Actually, I do agree with you about our natural tendency being to negate the 'think', which is why my preferred solution (see below) was to keep the "don't think" and get rid of the "you'd better".
    I would phrase it as in your second example, or, even more simply and hence more effectively, as "I don't think you should consider..".
    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

  7. #7
    probus's Avatar
    probus is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    5,825

    Re: I don't think you'd better

    Apparently the corpus of AmE does not want me to post a link to its usages of "better not", but there are 1252 of them, many or most of them "you better not", or my much rarer preference "You'd better not".

    It is just a small constructional step from "You better not" to "I don't think you better." I feel that I've been hearing that phrase all my life. In fact I've used it myself all my life. It is a colloquial usage. More than half the examples in the corpus are from fictional dialogue.
    Last edited by probus; 12-Mar-2013 at 04:09.

  8. #8
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    15,916

    Re: I don't think you'd better

    I'm old-fashioned enough (quiet, Star Wars aficionadas ) to prefer 'you'd better' in each of those cases.

    b

  9. #9
    nyota's Avatar
    nyota is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    626

    Re: I don't think you'd better

    Foreign language students are only taught the 'old-fashioned' way,but I did use to think it's you better probably because of some American movies, fast speech or both. Either way, you'd still negate them the same way from what I understood.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •