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  1. enydia's Avatar

    • Join Date: Apr 2008
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    #1

    hadn't sb do sth?

    Hi, Teachers.

    When a speaker says 'hadn't sb do sth', what is his/her exact suggestion?

    E.g.1
    Hadn't you better ask him first?
    Does the speaker want 'you' to ask him first or not to do that?

    E.g.2
    Hadn't we better tell him the truth?
    Does the speaker want 'we' to tell him the truth or not to do that?

    How to understand this kind of construction?

    Thanks in advance.

    Enydia

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Tamil
      • Home Country:
      • India
      • Current Location:
      • India

    • Join Date: May 2008
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    #2

    Re: hadn't sb do sth?

    Quote Originally Posted by enydia View Post
    Hi, Teachers.

    When a speaker says 'hadn't sb do sth', what is his/her exact suggestion?

    E.g.1
    Hadn't you better ask him first?
    Does the speaker want 'you' to ask him first or not to do that?

    E.g.2
    Hadn't we better tell him the truth?
    Does the speaker want 'we' to tell him the truth or not to do that?

    How to understand this kind of construction?

    Thanks in advance.

    Enydia
    You had better ask him first.
    Had better-must ask him;should ask him;
    The speaker wants you to seek his advice.
    Regards,
    rj1948.

  2. enydia's Avatar

    • Join Date: Apr 2008
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    #3

    Re: hadn't sb do sth?

    Thank you very much.

    Can I say 'hadn't we better not tell him the truth'?


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #4

    Re: hadn't sb do sth?

    Quote Originally Posted by enydia View Post
    Thank you very much.

    Can I say 'hadn't we better not tell him the truth'?
    Sure you can, Enydia. Or, more casually,

    "We better not tell him the truth".

    Strongest -----------------------------------------------------Weakest
    S must ... . ---------------S had better ... . -----------------S should ...

    This is not to say that 'should' is particularly weak but how they fare against each other. Intonation can make each one stronger or weaker, relatively speaking, as can additions like "really".

    You really must/really had better (not all that common)/really should ...
    Last edited by riverkid; 21-Jun-2008 at 04:48.

  3. enydia's Avatar

    • Join Date: Apr 2008
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    #5

    Re: hadn't sb do sth?

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    Sure you can, Enydia. Or, more casually,

    "We better not tell him the truth".

    Strongest -----------------------------------------------------Weakest
    S must ... . ---------------S had better ... . -----------------S should ...

    This is not to say that 'should' is particularly weak how they fare against each other. Intonation can make each one stronger or weaker, relatively speaking, as can additions like "really".

    You really must/really had better (not all that common)/really should ...
    very helpful

  4. BobK's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: hadn't sb do sth?

    A footnote to RK's post. Some people make a show of not being able to understand expressions like "hadn't we better not tell him the truth". But it's perfectly clear and quite common.

    b

  5. enydia's Avatar

    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 414
    #7

    Re: hadn't sb do sth?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    A footnote to RK's post. Some people make a show of not being able to understand expressions like "hadn't we better not tell him the truth". But it's perfectly clear and quite common.

    b
    Thank you for your good 'footnote'. *^_^*
    I'm just one of the 'some people' you mentioned...
    In that short expression, there are two negations and one question. It's somewhat tortuous for me. In addition, what you said, 'quite common', is really bad news for me.


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #8

    Re: hadn't sb do sth?

    Quote Originally Posted by enydia View Post
    Thank you for your good 'footnote'. *^_^*
    I'm just one of the 'some people' you mentioned...
    In that short expression, there are two negations and one question. It's somewhat tortuous for me. In addition, what you said, 'quite common', is really bad news for me.
    If it causes you trouble, then paraphrase it, Enydia.

    hadn't we better not tell him the truth?

    hadn't we better = It's my pretty strong opinion, which I've weakened a little bit by using a negative and question form which asks for your opinion, instead of just telling you, "we had better go",

    that we don't tell him the truth.

    OR

    hadn't we better not tell him the truth?

    is a slightly stronger form of,

    "We shouldn't tell him the truth".

    Don't try to figure out the negatives and positives, just let the meaning, taken from the paraphrases, flow into your brain. After you use it enough times, your brain will set the required switches and it will seem as natural to you as breathing.

  6. enydia's Avatar

    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 414
    #9

    Re: hadn't sb do sth?

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    If it causes you trouble, then paraphrase it, Enydia.

    hadn't we better not tell him the truth?

    hadn't we better = It's my pretty strong opinion, which I've weakened a little bit by using a negative and question form which asks for your opinion, instead of just telling you, "we had better go",

    that we don't tell him the truth.

    OR

    hadn't we better not tell him the truth?

    is a slightly stronger form of,

    "We shouldn't tell him the truth".

    Don't try to figure out the negatives and positives, just let the meaning, taken from the paraphrases, flow into your brain. After you use it enough times, your brain will set the required switches and it will seem as natural to you as breathing.
    Thank you, Riverkid.
    I think the students having a teacher like you is very lucky.
    Regards
    Enydia

  7. BobK's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: hadn't sb do sth?

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    If it causes you trouble, then paraphrase it, Enydia.

    hadn't we better not tell him the truth?

    hadn't we better = It's my pretty strong opinion, which I've weakened a little bit by using a negative and question form which asks for your opinion, instead of just telling you, "we had better go",

    that we don't tell him the truth.

    OR

    hadn't we better not tell him the truth?

    is a slightly stronger form of,

    "We shouldn't tell him the truth".

    Don't try to figure out the negatives and positives, just let the meaning, taken from the paraphrases, flow into your brain. After you use it enough times, your brain will set the required switches and it will seem as natural to you as breathing.
    For people who get mixed up by the paired negatives, Enydia, you could make your paraphrase use another word entirely: "Wouldn't it be better if we kept quiet/avoided telling him the truth" or "Hadn't we better keep him in the dark".

    b

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