Still confusing ほうがいい and ばいい

Lately I’ve been having a hard time getting this sentence right:
(It would be better if I leave, right?)

Here, the accepted answer seems to be ~ばいい, not ~ほうがいい.
I did try to understand the difference between the two, but evidently I still confuse their nuances.

Would it be completely wrong to use 僕がでていったほうがいいんでしょう here?
Assuming it is, why would ~ばいい be preferred?
Is it because this grammar point is more likely used when asking for advice, whereas ほうがいい is when you give/suggest it?


My understanding of the two sentences, and I could be wrong:

ほうがいい is a strong suggestion to do. So this sentence reads like, “I’d better leave, right?” Meaning there is a strong pressure on you to leave. Maybe you aren’t welcome where you are at and people are making it clear you should go.

Whereas, ばいい is just it’d be good if blank. So the sentence 僕がでていけばいいんでしょう reads as, “If I left, it would be fine right?” I imagine this person is just wrapping up a pleasant visit they had somewhere and is expressing, “well, I think it’s time for me to head out.”

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That’s what I also initially thought until I looked at the context of the sentence in the lesson:

It would be better if I leave, right? Since I am the one who has done wrong.

This definitely feels to me like a situation where there’s a strong pressure on the person to leave…

looking at grammar reference books (DoJG & Grammar Patterns, they show examples where 方がいい is used in questions to solicit advice, so I’m not sure that it’s necessarily that :thinking:

Had I better go home now?

She is such a gossip, so isn’t it better not to tell her?

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Generally the 〜ばいい has a nuance as follows:
The past version has regret baked into it.

  • 行けばよかった: It would have been good if I had left.

Notice the English uses a notoriously hard grammar construction to capture the same idea. Conditional past perfect: would have been good

In the case of the present you can stretch the idea to this:

  • 行けばいい: It will have been good if I have left.

I think the hard part is that it’s hard to decide wether to interpret it as present or future tense as Japanese does not mark the future independently from the present like English does. Though in general this construction leands toward being transliterated into the hypothetical future perfect tense: will have been.

Compare to

  • 行った方がいい : To leave is(will be) good.
    This is a more straightforward and confident perspective.

A Common phrase that uses the ばいい construction is:

  • どう言えばいいか: What will have been good to have said.

Overall the idea is that it’s possible to take an action that is bad and you want to avoid the bad possibility. In the past version you regret having taken that path, and in the non-past version you are hoping to not go down the regrettable path.

Keep in mind that these are more transliterations verse true translation. English speakers don’t tend to phrase things like this, but I find it illustrative to use a massaged version of English to explain the idea.


kelth and Sidgr both bring up good points about the differences in nuance which made me realize something easily overlooked about why one “works” over the other: Bunpro simply wants an answer using a conditional. That’s all.

The inclusion of a comparative adjective in the translation is kind of a red herring here. ほうがいい does imply that one course of action is preferable to another, but it doesn’t satisfy the “if” part of the translation.


Muchas gracias to all you guys for your insightful answers!
I feel like I now have a better understanding of these two grammar points.

This has made it click for me for this particular sentence, thanks for the hint!

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