You Better (read this article): Meaning and Use [Italian Grammar Lesson]


Key Takeaways

Learn the secrets of saying “you’d better” in Italian like a native! This guide breaks down the nuances of giving advice or warnings with perfect Italian flair. 🇮🇹✨

  • Fare meglio a: A direct translation for “you’d better,” used to advise immediate action, e.g., “Ora faresti meglio a tornare a casa” (You’d better come back home now).
  • È / sarà meglio che: These phrases incorporate the subjunctive mood, suggesting advice or warning with different intensities depending on tense, e.g., “È meglio che tu sparisca” (You’d better get out of here).
  • Conviene: Offers advice by highlighting convenience or necessity, sometimes without a direct object pronoun, e.g., “Ti conviene fare in fretta” (You’d better hurry up).
  • Understanding nuances: Recognizing how these expressions vary can enhance your ability to offer advice in Italian without sounding overly authoritative or bossy.
  • Application in conversation: Embrace these idiomatic expressions to sound more like a native and effectively communicate subtle suggestions or urgent advice.

Quick facts

How do Italians commonly convey "you'd better" in everyday speech?

Italians use "fare meglio a," "meglio che," "sarà meglio che," and "conviene" to express "you'd better," each with its own nuance.

When might you use "fare meglio a" in Italian?

Use "fare meglio a" for general advice, like "Fate meglio a rimanere qua" ("You'd better stay here").

What's the difference between "meglio che" and "sarà meglio che"?

"Meglio che" is softer advice, while "sarà meglio che" feels more like a warning, emphasizing urgency.

How does context affect the use of "conviene"?

"Conviene" can be used with or without an indirect object pronoun, depending on whether the advice is specific or general.

Can "conviene" sound bossy in Italian?

Yes, "conviene" can sound firmer and more urgent, making it suitable for important advice.

What is the structural rule for using "fare meglio a"?

Combine the conjugated form of "fare" + "meglio a" + verb in the infinitive, like "Faccio meglio ad andare a dormire" ("I'd better go to sleep").

How is "meglio che" constructed grammatically?

Use "meglio che" + verb in the present subjunctive, creating a softer piece of advice, like "Meglio che impariate a nuotare" ("You'd better learn to swim").

Why might "sarà meglio che" be considered stronger advice?

"Sarà meglio che" uses the future tense of "essere," implying more urgency or a warning, like "Sarà meglio che tu mi dica la verità!" ("You'd better tell me the truth!").

How does cultural context affect the use of "you better" in Italian?

Italians often use these phrases as gentle advice rather than strict commands, reflecting a cultural preference for politeness.

Why is it important to understand the nuances of these phrases?

Recognizing subtle differences helps you give advice appropriately and engage in conversations more naturally with native Italian speakers.

My Thoughts

“You Better (…)” in Italian

In today’s lesson, you’re going to learn different ways to say “you’d better” or “you better, as in “you’d better help your brother”.

As you know, we use this construction in English to talk about actions we think people should do or which are desirable in a specific situation.

In both English and Italian, this expression is an idiomatic phrase, meaning that its use is metaphorical, yet it is conventionally understood by native speakers.

How Do You Say “You Better” (do something) in Italian?

There are three main ways to say “you’d better” or “you better” in Italian. Let’s have a look at them:

  • Fare meglio a
  • È / sarà meglio che
  • Conviene

Here’s the same sentence with the four options:

Ora faresti meglio a tornare a casa.
È meglio che tu torni a casa.
Sarà meglio che tu torni a casa.
Ti conviene tornare a casa.

You’d better come back home.

Speaking both English and Italian daily, I noticed that, most of the time, I use the English expression when I think there will be consequences if what is suggested is not done.

However, as an Italian native speaker I can ensure you that Italians don’t always use it in an imperative way, but more as a gentle piece of advice.

For instance, if you want to suggest a friend to start learning Italian today, you can say “faresti meglio a iniziare oggi!” (you better start today!) and the subtle encouragement would resonate without sounding too bossy.

Contextual Use of “You Better” in Italian

How to use “Fare Meglio a”

The construction of this expression is the following:

Conjugated form of the verb fare + meglio a + verb in the infinitive.

Where the infinitive is what the person better do.

Faccio meglio ad andare a dormire.

I’d better go to sleep.

Fate meglio a rimanere qua.

You’d better stay here.

Facciamo meglio a studiare.

We’d better study.

How to Use “è meglio che” or “sarà meglio che”

These two are slightly more complicated. In fact, depending on the introductory verb, the meaning that is conveyed changes a little.

However, the main structural difference between these two expressions is the tense of the verb essere (to be): in the first case it is present tense, while in the second is the future tense to make assumptions.

Let’s analyze them separately.

This expression sounds softer than the other, because it’s more like a mere piece of advice, as in the following examples:

È meglio che tu sparisca prima che arrivi.

You’d better get out of here before he gets here.

È meglio che impariate a nuotare.

You’d better learn to swim.

  • sarà meglio che + verb in the present subjunctive.

This construction sounds stronger, almost like a warning, as in these sentences:

Sarà meglio che abbiate una risposta!

You’d better have an answer!

Sarà  meglio che tu mi dica la verità!

You’d better tell me the truth!

As you can see, in both cases, the verb “essere” is conjugated in the third person singular (è and sarà) and never changes.

How to Use “conviene”

This construction is different from the ones we saw above:

Indirect object pronoun + conviene + verb in the infinitive.

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However, the indirect object pronoun is not always mandatory, because it depends on whether you are directing the sentence to someone specifically or it just general advice.

Let’s have a look at some examples:

Non conviene prendere la scorciatoia.

We’d better not take the shortcut.
Literally: Taking the shortcut isn’t convenient.

Ti conviene fare in fretta.

You’d better hurry up.
Literally: It’s convenient for you to hurry up.

Vi conviene fare attenzione.

You’d better be careful.
Literally: It’s convenient for you to be careful.

Ci conviene cominciare adesso.

We’d better start now.
Literally: It’s convenient for us to start now.

Compared to the others, this expression is a little firmer, which can be effective when giving important advice and sounds more as a was a wake-up call.

You Better Start Learning!

You see? In English it always sounds very bossy, but I swear it is not what I mean!

My purpose is to advise you to start using this expression to better master you Italian and engage in conversations with native speakers.

Now that you are learning how to say “you better” in Italian, make sure you recognize the subtle differences between each phrase. Embrace the nuances, and you’ll find yourself confidently giving advice in Italian like a local!

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions

What does you'd better mean?

You'd better expresses actions we think people should do or which are desirable in a specific situation because there will be negative results if someone does not do what is desired or suggested.

How to use "fare meglio a"?

By using the conjugated form of the verb "fare" + "meglio a" + verb in the infinitive.

What means "è meglio che" and how to use it?

"È meglio che" is an Italian phrase that translates to "it's better that" in English. It's often used to express a preference or suggest a course of action. You should use "è meglio che" + verb in the present subjunctive. Its like a piece of advice.

What means "sarà megio che" and how to use it?

"Sarà meglio che" is an Italian phrase that translates to "It will be better that" or "It's better that" in English. It is often used to suggest a course of action that is deemed to be more appropriate or beneficial. By using "sarà meglio che" + verb in the present subjunctive. Its like a warning.

What means "conviene" in Italian and how to use it?

By using an indirect object pronoun + "conviene" + verb in the infinitive. "Conviene" in Italian means "it is convenient" or "it is advisable".

Italian word of the day
Mi piace Silvio. Sia come politico che come persona.
I like Silvio. Both as a politician and as a person.
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