Help with る/たほうがいい/よかった

Hello, I’m studying grammar now and I don’t understand the answers to the questions that come to my mind. What is the difference and what is the meaning of each of these forms from each of these forms?
The example’s going to be: 野菜を食べる
I know that:
野菜を食べるほうがいい means just a general recommendation or advice to do smth.
It is better to eat vegetables. OK.
Also I know that:
野菜を食べないほうがいい means just a general recommendation or advice not to do smth.
It is better not to eat vegetables. (LOL, NO)
And the last one I know that:
野菜を食べたほうがよかった is SHOULD HAVE equivalent from English.
I should have eaten vegetables(but have eaten chocolate, that’s sad)
How to make a negative form? 野菜を食べなかったほうがよかった? I shouldn’t have eaten vegetables(but have eaten)???
So, I am interested in this kind of questions.
野菜を食べるほうがよかった It was better to eat vegetables(just recomendation in past, can it be so?)
野菜を食べないほうがよかった It was better not to eat vegetables(better for what moment? just in random past?)
野菜を食べたほうがいい。Isn’t it a synonim of phrase above? is it present perfect, isn’t it?
and others… are they even make a sense? Is there anyone who uses these forms?
And a little question more: to make a question should I just add の or か at the end?
Maybe any other examples or equivalents from English to make it easer to understand.
advance thanks

I apologize if something is unclear, I myself got confused a little while I was writing this haha

In this expression, it’s more typical to use past tense for the verb - 食べ方がいい. 食べ方がいい can also be used, but it implies a weaker suggestion, so it’d be weird to use it if you want to be really emphatic.

The negative form is 食べない方がいい - not 食べた方がよくない, and never 食べなかった方がいい.

It’s an idiomatic expression, it doesn’t really have a full set of conjugations like a regular verb or adjective.


Okay, then Arigatou!

What about making question?

Is it a right way to say: 何をしたほうがいいの/か
What should I do?

Or to say: 野菜を食べたほうがいいと思いますか?
Like: do you think I should eat vegetables?

Or even like this: 何をしたほうが良かったと思いますか?
What you think should I have done?

What is better to eat?

you think vegetables or chocolate is better to eat?

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For “what should I do?” this expression doesn’t really work. The expressions for “what should I do?” are
or even (I have come across it much less often)

The other questions are more complicated but I don’t think the ほうがいい construction works for any of them. I’d need more time to look into them and it’s hard to type a lot on my phone so maybe somebody more experienced than me can pick up from here.


ok, so be it, I’ll just use it as a beginner then, and at the levels above and as I learn the language, some points will become clearer. Thanks a lot. probably it’s not worth going deeper yet, because I’m generally a beginner.

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eh, a ton more grammar - i’m coming for you and learn you lol

どうしたらいい is much more common in informal contexts. It’s not at all rare in anime, for example. (I know for certain that it appears in Konosuba, and I think we hear it as early as episode 1 if I remember correctly. I have the scene in my head, and can most probably dig it up if anyone wants to see it.)

However,「何をしたほうがいい?」is definitely possible as a means of asking what one should do. It comes up on multiple Japanese sites, particularly ones that deal with language teaching for Japanese and English learners. (Specifically, I’ve seen the phrase on DMM Eikawa on a ‘how to say’ Q&A page, a site providing a set of questions for Minna no Nihongo, and Japanese textbook from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, among others.) Perhaps there is an additional nuance, like, maybe, the idea that not doing what’s suggested may lead to undesirable consequences, but it’s a valid expression for OP’s purposes nonetheless. I guess what we can say is that 「どうしよう?」and「どうすれば・したらいい?」are a little more general.

I think these three are correct. From what I remember from my research very early in my Japanese studies, the nuance when one sees 〜うほうがいい is that the action being discussed is simply being envisaged, but not necessarily being suggested as something one will actually do. (This was already mentioned in earlier replies.) This is logical once you account for the fact that with 〜たほう, one is literally saying ‘the side/case in which ~ is complete’, whereas with ~うほう, one is simply considering ‘the case characterised by ~’. You can indeed see the version with 〜うほう as a weaker suggestion.

I think this one is little problematic. If we’re assuming casual speech, an easier way of asking this while generally preserving your sentence structure is


Your original sentence probably translates as… ‘do you think it would be good if I ate chocolate or vegetables?’, unless I’m misunderstanding how a Japanese person would interpret it.

Once again, by using 〜たほう, you’re discussing a case in which the eating will actually occur, as opposed to simply the idea of eating (say… in general, should one eat chocolate or vegetables). I just want to emphasise that so you’re aware there’s a difference. However, according to a Japanese teaching site I just checked, 〜たほう and 〜ないほう are generally far more common, so you don’t really have to worry about the positive 〜う+ほう form too much.


that is, if the verb is in the present tense, then it is understood that the action may or may not occur, hence this is a general advice in case “if this suddenly happens, then; or it may not happen.” and it turns out that the verb in the past tense implies that the action is much more likely to be performed or has already been performed, this is a type of more confident advice.
I have to be sure that I understood you correctly…

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Yes, the action is more likely to be performed. I’m not sure if there are cases in which ‘it has already been performed’, though I guess you could be talking about advice you gave in the past which was followed, like

I said [he] ought to drink some water. When he did, he felt refreshed.

I don’t think using のむほう would make sense there. And so yes, I guess you could say it’s more confident advice, or at least, more forceful advice (i.e. ‘you should do it, you know?’)

I think you have understood what I wanted to say, yes. :slight_smile:

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Wow, ok, ありがとうございました。

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