Had Best Construction

1. General

1.1. Label

Idiomatic modal construction with had best.

1.2. Reasons for construction status

(reasons for constructional status)

The construction is similar to the construction had better. They basically share the same linguistic properties and are close in meaning.

The remarks on had better construction in HadBetterConstruction are the base for this database entry. The reason for the construction status is the same as it is for had better. Had best appears in the same environments as the had better construction does. It also has a base form following the adverb, while one would expect a past participle governed by had.

It also resembles an auxiliary verb.

1.3. Examples

  1. Cain had best forget this one http://www.fannation.com/articles/show/1173388 (18.09.2007)
  2. Your body had best be good http://unclebarky.com/abovethefold_files/e059c6d369465e252d218c69d704984c-476.html (18.09.2007)
  3. You had best bring a raincoat in this weather. http://www.yourdictionary.com/ahd/h/h0086500.html (18.09.2007)

2. Language Information


2.2. Language


2.3. Variety

(to be filled out if the construction belongs to a particular geographic, social, situational, or stylistic variety or to a particular genre)

see HadBetterConstruction

2.4. Speech Community

(to be filled out if the construction is used in a particular speech community)

see HadBetterConstruction

2.5. Language Contact

(to be filled out if the construction influenced by constructions from another languages)

see HadBetterConstruction

2.6. Time Period

(time period of construction)

2.7. Stage of Acquisition

(comments on age and circumstances of the acquisition)

3. Form

3.1. Syntax


(general comments on the syntactic properties of the construction)

see the HadBetterConstruction

3.1.2. Internal Valency

(information on valency relationships inside the construction)

There is always a bare infinitival VP following had better.

Had better + VP [base] Constituency

(description of the constituent relationships inside the construction)

see the HadBetterConstruction

3.1.3. External Category

(category label) Structural Position

(syntagmatic relationships with other constructions (but see also 4.3))

A negation is possible with both n’t and not e.g.:

Google-query: “hadn’t best”, “had not best”
  1. Ok in some tourneys you hadn't best set in some we hadn't, so for this we have general statistic on all this rivairy (100/63) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcjJNvW6QVY, 24.09.2007)
  2. ..., but she tells me you had not best fatigue your Self but take your own Time, ... (http://www.badsey.net/past/braby3.htm, 24.09.2007)
  3. These tailors are really astounding chaps. Recently they were discussing quite seriously the question of knives and forks, and whether these had not best be chained. (http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1846/letters/46_08_19a.htm, 24.09.2007)
  4. to future generations, and the wickedness of these deeds had not best remain unknown to later times: lest future tyrants, hearing, might emulate them. (http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/proc/shp/shp03.htm, 24.09.2007)
  5. ..., whether they had not best make an attempt upon the Giant, demolish his Castle,... (http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/bunyan/pp20.htm, 24.09.2007)

Negation with don’t is ungrammatical

Inversion: It is not ungrammatical in the had best construction but it sounds strange e.g.:

Google-query: “had*best”
  1. What had I best do? (http://www.dict.cc/?s=I+did+my+best, 24.09.2007)
  2. “And where had I best pass the night?” (http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/b/borrow/george/wild/chapter31.html, 24.09.2007)
  3. Let me see--had I best begin to screw him up in this interview, or wait for the next? (http://cooper.thefreelibrary.com/Autobiography-of-a-Pocket-Handkerchief/1-18, 24.09.2007)

Ellipsis: The had best construction cannot appear stranded at the end of a sentence
  1. *? I had best go and you had.

Additional auxiliary properties:

Emphasis: The had best construction can not be used for emphasis
  1. *?? I had best be like cheese.

In the had best construction had is not an auxiliary

Other distributional properties

The had best construction can occur inside embedded clauses:

Google-query: “that*had best“
  1. I told him that this is for the courts to decide and that he had best contact my attorney if he would like to discuss this matter further (http://www.guanotronic.com/~serge/main.php?article=7, 24.09.2007)
  2. "Long ago we realized that the subject of the law in the drama was so broad that it had best be treated in installments. (http://www.shakespearefellowship.org/virtualclassroom/Law/law1.htm, 24.09.2007)
  3. I thought that I had best make my way to Smyrna. (http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=church&book=callias&story=end, 24.09.2007)

Google-query: “as*had best”
  1. As men had best forget; and certainly E’en such a day it was when this might be (http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/morris/ep2/ep202.htm, 24.09.2007)
  2. ...or some such voice as we had best look to the table, as the Holy Scriptures, then came the words must be a montana state map kentucky state parks evenings. (http://olishahgheesoaquae.com/278-344.html, 24.09.2007)
  3. And you ascertained that the action script for games Chatterissa again advanced, carriages, as we had best say nothing about their persons. (http://olishahgheesoaquae.com/70-66.html, 24.09.2007)

Google-query: “think*had best”
  1. I think you had best keep this in your own safe (http://www.childrenofthemanhattanproject.org/index.php?Itemid=&option=com_search&searchword=roosevelt ,24.09.2007)
  2. I think you had best watch the pictures. You will see me locking up and just running out of road. (http://www.fia.com/mediacentre/Press_Information/F1/Press_Conferences/2006/Monaco/mon_conf3.html , 24.09.2007)
  3. I think you had best sell whatever you think we shall not stand in need of. (http://www.eliasboudinot.com/, 24.09.2007)

Google-query: “when*had best”
  1. ...but who desire to learn how they had best study it, and, finally, when they had best study it. (http://aleph0.clarku.edu/huxley/CE3/StofB.html, 24.09.2007)
  2. I have never been one to censor myself to placate the powers that be, or to be quiet when I had best be silent, especially when they need a reality check. (http://www.videohelp.com/forum/archive/best-t289847.html, 24.09.2007)
  3. ...; but at the period when he had best known the type he had daily bent over white fingers in Continental capitals. (http://www.readprint.com/chapter-1063/Francis-Hodgson-Burnett, 24.09.2007)

3.2. Morphology


(general comments on the morphological properties of the construction)

3.2.2. Internal Morphological Properties of Elements

(morphological properties of elements)

3.2.3. External Morphological Properties of Construction

(morphological properties of the construction itself)

4. Meaning

4.1. Semantics


(prose description of construction's meaning)

4.1.2. Internal Frame

(frame evoked) Event

(event type) Participants

(description of the participants, e.g. as 'selection restrictions')

see the HadBetterConstruction

Data with quantificational subjects:

Google-query: “no one had best”
  1. No one had best challenge their "authority." (http://www.arkonline.com/moreondenali.html, 24.09.2007)
  2. They hire this person, NO ONE had best DARE question ANY moves. (http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/bohls/entries/2007/06/30/a_longhorn_for.html, 24.09.2007)
  3. He was a very loyal person in those respects, if he trusted you, and you had proved your worth, no one had best cross that line. (http://forums.speedguide.net/showthread.php?t=207105, 24.09.2007)

Google-query: “most*had best”
  1. Most impulses had best be squelched... (http://www.themeetingplace.com.au/quizzes/emotions-quiz.asp, 24.09.2007)
  2. Although there are some benefits to strengthening the hip flexors, most people had best avoid hip flexion involving raising both legs simultaneously, especially people with abdominal obesity, lower-back pain or a history of lower-back pain. (http://www.femininebeauty.info/improve_looks.htm, 24.09.2007)
  3. Subjects using most categories had best recall. (www.lifesci.susx.ac.uk/home/Sam_Hutton/Memory2.ppt, 24.09.2007)

Google-query: “Every*had best”
  1. It seems to me that under such extreme circumstances, every civilian had best show a military-like discipline if they have any wish to survive. (http://forum.gateworld.net/showthread.php?t=14680, 24.09.2007)
  2. ... and every man had best take care of himself. (http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0026-749X(199302)27%3A1%3C205%3AVOTRAS%3E2.0.CO%3B2-P, 24.09.2007)
  3. In my briefing, I told my Marines that a head count would be taken after emerging from that hamlet, and every Marine had best be present. (http://www.grunt.com/scuttlebutt/newsarchives/2006/nov_2.asp, 24.09.2007) Truth-Conditional Information

(information on the truthconditional properties of the construction) Negation

(peculiar behaviours with respect to negation) Scope

(description of the scope of the construction)

4.1.3. External Semantic Class

(semantic category) Relation to Construction-External Semantic Elements

(description of semantic relations outside of the construction) Truth Relations

(information on the truthconditional relationships of the construction) Semantic Presuppositions

(semantic presupposition) Semantic Entailments

(semantic entailments)

4.2. Pragmatics


(general comments on the pragmatic behaviour of the construction)

4.2.2. Internal

(internal pragmatic properties)

4.2.3. External Indexical Properties Deixis

(linguistic and extralinguistic domains indexed) Intertextuality

(intertextual links evoked) Interpersonal Function

(politeness, other-self, etc.) Speaker attitude

(modality, epistemic, emotion) Speech Act Function

(illocutionary force) Rhetorical Function

(rhetorical potential) Style

(stylistic features) Pragmatic Presuppositions / Implicature

(modality, epistemic, emotion)

4.3. Discourse Properties

4.3.1. Internal Turn Constructional Status

(status as TCU) Within-Turn Position

(turn-initial, -medial, -final position, etc.)

4.3.2.External Sequential Context

(position in sequence) Position in Text- and Dialogue-Structure

(position in larger discourse structure) Sequence Type

(type of sequence)

4.4. Information Structure

4.4.1. Internal Topic - Comment

(contribution to topic-comment structure) Focus

(placement of focus)

4.4.2. External Signaled Information Status

(status of information as given, new, inferable, etc.) Information Status Requirements

(information status requirements)

4.5. Data

4.5.1. Introspection

(introspective data used)

4.5.2. Authentic data Source data properties

(description of corpus (publicly available/self-compiled, channel/medium, register, genre, text type, speaker info (number of interlocutors, gender, age, background, (non-)native, etc.)))

BNC via SARA 09/06/07: http://sara.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/lookup.html

Query: had best
  1. AN4 2351 Poets like Woodhouse had best go back to their jobs.
  2. BMN 29 You had best ask the purveyor that question.'
  3. BMN 2089 You had best get in.'
  4. BMN 2497 `;You had best come up on deck if you are to be sick.
  5. CM1 829 Afterwards, when told he had best wait for his bodyguard, Caledor replied that he could expect no better bodyguards than these hunters, and asked them to accompany him on his quest to the shrine.
  6. CMT 628 This is the lesson of the Khrushchev years, and this lesson is simple: if the subservience of Eastern Europe's Communist rulers is ensured by their dependence on the Soviet Union, then the Soviet Union had best be dependable.
  7. CR7 1758 Broadcasters had best admit that change is no longer creeping, or repressible.
  8. FP3 1218 Life, as he had once said to the Zoo Curator, was wonderful and a man had best enjoy it while he may.
  9. FRF 418 `;You had best tell me how, Teacher Peng.'
  10. FU4 896 Odd, my little mistress, you had best take care for you are hard beset.
  11. GWF 270 `;You had best impress upon the household the need for discretion.
  12. GWF 1585 `;I had best put in an appearance at the feast.
  13. HH1 3424 You had best keep that in mind.
  14. HLF 615 We are going to lift this nation out of hard times inch by inch and day by day, and those who would stop us had best step aside.
  15. HTN 1809 `;Then Garvey had best pay.
  16. HWN 413 `;I think,'; Tuppe pulled a converted shirt tail from his trouser pocket and dabbed his mouth with it, `;that we had best finish up here and apply ourselves to adventures elsewhere.
  17. HWN 1739 `;We had best hold the duffle-coat in reserve.
  18. JY7 2177 `;If you want to get this visit over with, signorina ,'; he said sharply, `;then I had best take you to my grandmother at once.
  19. K95 180 Though,'; he smiled at the girl, `;Mistress Philippa and Geoffrey had best stay together.
  20. K95 2567 `;You had best hurry home, Brother.

Google search: www.google.de Query: “had best”
  1. Cain had best forget this one (http://www.orovillemr.com/sports/giants/ci_6796645, 17.9.2007)
  2. You had best bring a raincoat in this weather. (http://www.yourdictionary.com/ahd/h/h0086500.html, 17.09.2007)
  3. One sees not but he had best let bad take care of itself, and have to do only with what is beyond suspicion. (http://www.walden.org/Institute/thoreau/writings/essays/Aulus%20Persius%20Flaccus.htm, 17.09.2007)
  4. I had best confess at the outset that I cannot hope to be objective about her. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A55809-2003Jul1.html, 17.09.2007)
  5. God brings us love but we must meet it with courage or it will slip through our hands. When love walks in, we had best meet it with backbone. (http://www.mwblog.com/prayer/, 17.09.2007)
  6. Although the Net runneth over, info seekers had best beware - availability and reliability of information on the Internet (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1571/is_n23_v13/ai_19504412, 17.09.2007)
  7. Bull had best adjust to being familiarly called "John" by embassy colleagues; "after a day or two ... he may return this vulgar compliment." (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,853632,00.html, 17.09.2007)
  8. If John Bull has an aversion to public funerals, he had best overcome it. (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,853632,00.html, 17.09.2007)
  9. A C-Span math explanation is something "former" Governor Allen and staff had best develop speedily lest it becomes "former" Senator, as well. (http://topic.blogspot.com/2006_04_23_archive.html, 17.09.2007)
  10. He had best stand clear of it all this time perhaps borrowing Greta Garbo's famous line: "I vant to be alone!" (http://topic.blogspot.com/2006_04_23_archive.html, 17.09.2007)
  11. From 30,000 feet I think this means that your marketing had best improve (benefit) the world (your market) in some way or it won't get consumed. (http://www.searchenginelowdown.com/2006/05/yahoo-dvr-nintendo-wii-my-first-true.htm, 17.09.2007)
  12. Those who follow an ayotollah had best know how to bend the body in prayer, or otherwise face execution as an infidel. (http://www.helsinki.fi/science/optek/1993/n4/phillips.txt, 17.09.2007)
  13. The truly pathetic fact about Kyoto has been that there is so little that can be done to mitigate climate change by attempting to control carbon dioxide levels. Most of that change has natural causes, thus we had best spend our efforts learning how to adapt to what WILL happen instead of destroying the capitalist system that must fund that response. (, 17.09.2007)
  14. "Because I see you wandering blindly on the brink of a great danger, and because I see you confiding in those whom you had best mistrust." (http://www.blakeneymanor.com/books/repay/wrchp9.html, 17.09.2007)
  15. guess anyone insisting on keeping Comcast as an ISP and who has a wireless router in their homes had best invoke security on said route. (http://www.plastic.com/comments.html;sid=07/09/08/14342228;cid=11, 17.09.2007)
  16. If you are not sure that your product is valued by its users, you had best find out. (http://www.search.org/conferences/Presentations/marx.htm, 17.09.2007)
  17. 'You had best step in here, gentlemen,' said he, when he had heard their story. (http://www.worldwideschool.org/library/books/lit/adventure/TheWrongBox/chap4.html, 17.09.2007)
  18. Then we had best start preparing dinner in case Mr. Chamberlain brings his friends home. (http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/eBook49420.htm, 17.09.2007)
  19. You goyim had best watch your backs (http://www.lyrics007.com/Quincy%20Punx%20Lyrics/Soldiers%20Of%20Foreskin%20Lyrics.html, 17.09.2007)
  20. Politically, the implications were clear. If a state at a so-called lower stage wanted to resemble a state at a so-called advanced stage in terms of prosperity and internal political profile, it had best copy the pattern of the advanced state, (http://www.binghamton.edu/fbc/iwwsa-r&.htm, 17.09.2007)
  21. ...and implicitly therefore had best follow the advice of that state. (http://www.binghamton.edu/fbc/iwwsa-r&.htm, 17.09.2007)
  22. If they have not, then an honest man who happens to be born into this citizenship had best die. (http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=church&book=callias&story=rescued, 17.09.2007)
  23. Our gutless wonders had best listen to Bill Moyers... (http://aggravated.blogspot.com/2007/09/our-gutless-wonders-had-best-listen-to.html, 17.09.2007)
  24. ...I had best buy one yet or no, because of spoiling my present mind and love to business. (http://www.pepysdiary.com/archive/1663/04/17/, 17.09.2007)
  25. You had best phone your mother to tell her where you are going. (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12348, 17.09.2007)
  26. This is a wonderful chapter about being-in-the-world, thrownness, and the Impossible nonobject of desire, or 'Das Ding' which Silverman explains in a way that makes rather perfect sense at the time, but which you had best consider well before you try to communicate it to anyone else. (http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/discussions/start-thread.html?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0804738327&authorID=A393EQ8RHZH191&store=yourstore&reviewID=R1GTYBFFD07UOL&displayType=ReviewDetail, 17.09.2007)
  27. He tells Markheim that the servant has left her friends early and is returning to the store, so Markheim had best hurry. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markheim, 17.09.2007)
  28. David Jackson, our able tour organizer, had best bloom with a lovely yellow trumpet seedling of his. David Jackson, our able tour organizer, had best bloom with a lovely yellow trumpet seedling of his. (http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/daffodils/111809, 17.09.2007)
  29. But golfers and taxpayers had best look out: the city's on the verge of giving away two more of it courses. (http://search.houstonpress.com/search/results.php?issue=217490, 17.09.2007)
  30. If I use Redhat, what version had best support for Beowulf? (http://www.beowulf.org/archive/2001-June.txt, 17.09.2007)
  31. This cannot be guaranteed, obviously, so you had best act fast to ensure yourself seats (http://www.stubhub.com/musiq-tickets/, 17.09.2007)
  32. It seems that you strongly believed you had best hand and layed down anyhow. (http://blog.pokerwords.com/2005/06/folding-qq-pre-flop.html, 17.09.2007) Methods of Analysis

(source material size/length, number of tokens considered, sampling, search string, sample rate, number of retrieved hits, cleaning procedures)

4.6. Literature

(list of literature in which this construction has been discussed)

5. Relations to other constructions

5.1. Subtypes

5.1.1. Diachronic

(relations to subtypes of the construction through time)

5.1.2. Synchronic

(relations to subtypes of the construction)

5.2. Supertypes

5.2.1. Diachronic

(relations to more general constructions through time)

5.2.2. Synchronic

(relations to more general constructions)

Like the had_better construction, the construction is a modal construction.

5.3. Paradigmatic Relations

(relations to constructions of the same category)

The construction is related to the had better construction, documented in HadBetterConstruction and to the had_rather construction.

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