A. Had better (I’d better/you’d better etc.)
I’d better do something = It is advisable to do it. If I don’t, there will be a problem or a danger:
* I have to meet Ann in ten minutes. I’d better go now or I’ll be late.
* ‘Shall I take an umbrella?’ ‘Yes, you’d better. It might rain.’
* We’d better stop for petrol soon. The tank is almost empty.
The negative is I’d better not (= I had better not):
* A: Are you going out tonight?
B: I’d better not. I’ve got a lot of work to do.
* You don’t look very well. You’d better not go to work today.
You can use had better when you warn somebody that they must do something:
* You’d better be on time./You’d better not be late. (or I’ll be very angry)
The form is ‘had better’ (usually ‘I’d better/you’d better’ etc. in spoken English):
* I’d better phone Carol, hadn’t I?
Had is a past form, but in this expression the meaning is present or future, not past: * I’d better go to the bank now/tomorrow.
We say ‘I’d better do…’ (not ‘to do’):
* It might rain. We’d better take an umbrella. (not ‘we’d better to take’)
B. Had better and should
Had better is similar to should (see Unit 33A) but not exactly the same.
We use had better only for a particular situation (not for things in general).
You can use should in all types of situation to give an opinion or to give advice:
* It’s cold today. You’d better wear a coat when you go out. (a particular situation)
* I think all drivers should wear seat belts. (in general – not ‘had better wear’)
Also, with had better, there is always a danger or a problem if you don’t follow the advice.
Should only means ‘it is a good thing to do’. Compare.
* It’s a great film. You should go and see it. (but no danger, no problem if you don’t)
* The film starts at 8.30. You’d better go now or you’ll be late.
C. It’s time…
You can say ‘It’s time (for somebody) to do something’:
* It’s time to go home./It’s time for us to go home.
You can also say:
* It’s late. It’s time we went home.
Here we use the past (went) but the meaning is present or future, not past:
* It’s 10 o’clock and he’s still in bed. It’s time he got up. (not ‘It’s time he gets up’)
It’s time you did something = ‘you should have done it already or started it’. We often use this structure to criticise or to complain:
* It’s time the children were in bed. It’s long after their bedtime.
* The windows are very dirty. I think it’s time we cleaned them.
You can also say: It’s about time…/It’s high time… . This makes the criticism stronger:
* Jack is a great talker. But it’s about time he did something instead of )’just talking.
* You’re very selfish. It’s high time you realised that you’re not the most important person in the world.