What is the difference between “had better” and “should”?

“had better” means it would be better for you to heed the advice given because if you do not, serious consequences will result (e.g., you could be injured or even die).

“Should” means that the speaker thinks your life will be easier for you if you follow the advice given

 

Had Better

Structure: Had Better + Verb (walk, see, go, etc.)

-Had Better for specific advice:

Had better is used to give advice about specific things (use should for general advice). It is followed by the infinitive without to.

We’d better take something to eat or we will be hungry later.
It’s getting late. You’d better leave now or you will miss your bus.
I’d better go to bed, I have to be up early tomorrow.

-Had better for hope and warning:

Had better can also be used to express a hope or warming.

You’d better shut up! (warning)
My team had better win tonight. (hope)

-Or with negative results:

When the advice is strong, use had better with or to show the negative result of not following your advice.

You’d better take an umbrella or you will get wet.
He’d better remember to wear a neck-tie or they won’t let him in the restaurant.
I think I had better take them or they will get lost.

 

Should

Should has a variety of meanings and uses, but the basic meaning that I want you to know for today’s lesson is I think it’s a good idea. We use should this way when we want to give a suggestion. The grammar is should + base verb:

  • For awesome shopping, you should check out SOHO. I think shopping in SOHO is a good idea.
  • When you come to NYC, you should go to Central Park.
  • You should go to Lombardi’s if you want to eat amazing pizza.