Difference Between Rather Than, Would Rather, Had Rather and Had Better


Rather than

means instead of something or in preference to.

  • Rather than complicating matters further, we should just let Martha deal with it herself.

Would rather / Had rather 

they are both the same in meaning – when you prefer to have or do one thing more than another. Although, ‘had rather’ is more archaic and not as commonly used as ‘would rather’.

Generally, this is used as a contraction (I’d rather) so it isn’t always clear which one is being used..but thankfully, they have the same meaning!

  • “Would you like to go to Sarah’s house for dinner tonight?”
  • I’d rather stay at home” (I would rather stay at home / I had rather stay at home) 

Had better

is used to give advice or tell people what to do. The meaning is present or future, not past. Always use had, not have. After had better, we use the infinitive without ‘to’. Had better has the same meaning as ‘should’.

  • We had better leave early if we don’t want to get stuck in traffic. (we should leave early if we don’t want to get stuck in traffic – advice/suggestion)

Would better

Here the word better is the conditional of the verb ‘to better’ which means to improve or do better than someone else.

  • If you won the race tomorrow, you would better the current top record which was set back in the 1990s!
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