ない方がいい - Grammar Discussion

it’d be better not to

Structure

  • Verb[ない] + 方・が・いい

[Very strong suggestion/advice, with indirect implication of negative consequences if hearer doesn’t follow it(like becoming ill etc.)]

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The “方がいい - it’d be better to” piece of grammar links here!

Also, I wanted to suggest that you guys call this piece of grammar “た 方 が い い - it would be better to”, since the verb has to be in the た form. This way, it may be easier to remember! Besides, that’s the pattern that I see you guys use.

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Hey :grinning:
We have not only fixed forum link, but also changed the title of grammar point :grinning:

Cheers :+1:

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Excellent video on this grammar point here:

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@Marcus Thank you for the share! I have added this video to the Readings for this grammar point. Cheers!

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Why, in 〜たほうがいい, is the past form used, but in 〜ないほうがいい it’s not past negative?

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Hey :grin:

Sorry for the late answer.

Unfortunately, this is just one of those cases where it is a set phrase and must be remembered as such.


You can try to understand the probable origin of it, but you have to look at Japanese from a different perspective. Instead of thinking in terms of tense (referring to the time of something, past, present or future) we should think in terms of aspect - in other words if something has been completed (perfective) or not (imperfective).

When たほうがいい is used, it implies that the action should already be completed - perfective. Basically saying, “what the heck are you doing, it should be already done”.
It kind of puts pressure on the listener.

Negative imperfective form (ない) indicates negation of habitual or future actions.

While negative perfective form (なかった) indicates an action that has not been completed or event that did not take place, basically it failed to happen.

What the speaker wants to express is that the action (event) should not happen at all, rather than the action failing to happen. By using imperfect negative you ensure that the action should never happen.

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Is it grammatically necessary to drop the を here after compound する verbs?

i.e. 仕事しないほうがいい vs 仕事をしないほうがいい

no it is not neccessary, but why pronounce something where you dont have to. (there are some new loanwords where you have to use wo)