方がいい - Grammar Discussion

English translation:
it’d be better to, should

Structure
Verb[ ] + 方がいい

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

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I was wondering why this uses the form of the verb as that is past tense. (Especially since the ない方がいい negative form uses the present tense not the past tense).

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I found this counterintuitive too… :confounded:

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This one got me, and I’m not sure I understand it.

したこと (した事?)
Done thing (thing that was done)

Emphasizing the former
あった方がいい。
It would be better to have…

That’s the way I’m currently thinking about it, and I just don’t feel like I get it.

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Hey :grin:

I decided to replace the sentence since it sounds a bit unnatural.

The idea behind was to connect たことがある meaning that something has been done at some point in the past, and たほうがいい.

Cheers!

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Almost a year later, but I had the same question.

Here’s a discussion attempting to explain it.

The summary I take from it is that this is a separate use of た (yep, apparently there are multiple), which isn’t the past tense grammatically but the perfect tense - something I think most of us aren’t terribly familiar with, unfortunately.

Example translations from that link include:

傘を持っていったほうがいい。
Lit. “Having brought an umbrella would be better.”

That then is contrasted with the meaning you get when you don’t use the perfect tense:

It is also possible to have the plain form of verbs before 〜ほうがいい, but they don’t have a future interpretation but rather a “general” or “habitual” one.

傘を持っていくほうがいい。
“Bringing an umbrella is best.”

That is, you’re not making a suggestion about something to do at a future time, but making a more categorical statement.

I admit this is all a touch over my head, but I think I get the jist - and the most important thing I got from the discussion is this:

That said, I don’t think native speakers actually have such a complicated model (of comparing possible future worlds, one of which where you have brought an umbrella), but rather 〜たほうがいい has just become a way of making suggestions; that is, I think the 〜た has become mostly semantically bleached.

(Never heard that phrase before - “sematnically bleached” - I love how effectively it conveys its meaning!)

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Regarding the grammar structure given:

Verb[ た ] +  方・が・いい

Perhaps it would be better to say:

Past Tense Verb (Short Form) + 方・が・いい

Although as @Talos has mentioned it is technically perfect tense, I think it might be a bit confusing for those who haven’t learnt about that yet.

I just had a review where the answer was:

ここに すんだほうがいい 。[住すむ]

So the existing grammar structure would not take into account た > だ and various other exceptions.

Another note from what I read in Genki is that

when the advice is negative, however, the verb is in the present tense short form.

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Can 〜方がいい (and 〜べき) be used in conjunction with と思う to discuss what is “better/best for yourself” or “what you yourself must do”? Is there another grammar structure that is more suited to this purpose?

Example: I think it would be better (for me) to exercise more.
もっと運動したほうがいいと思います。

Is the only difference between 〜方がいい and 〜べき the nuance between “should” and “must”? Would the sentence「もっと運動するべきだと思います。」have a similar feel, something close to “I think I’ve got to exercise more.”?