When is it correct to use "better+verb", for example which one of following sentences are correct?

It better helps [me to prepare than something else].

It better makes sense [than something else].

It better matches the others.

You will better understand it if you pay more attentions.

...where better means "more", not "had better" or "better" as verb.

closed as off-topic by Dan Bron, tchrist, TimLymington, Ronan, Mari-Lou A Aug 19 '14 at 21:11

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  • Only the third sentence seems grammatically correct to me... Better is often used as a comparative term "It helps better than..." – Alex Riley Aug 16 '14 at 13:28
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    @JohnS, you might also be interested in another SE site, ell.stackexchange.com, where people teach and discuss the foundations of English grammar. You'd likely get an even more informative answer to this question there. – Dan Bron Aug 16 '14 at 13:47
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    Better suited to ell.stackexchange.com – Dan Bron Aug 16 '14 at 13:49
  • @ajcr Thanks, that's what I meant, but can better come before verb? – Ali Shakiba Aug 16 '14 at 14:06
  • John, the short answer is no: helps cannot precede the verb in the kind of situations you're asking about (with the usual caveat that English is a bottomless sea of variation and nuance, so, for example, while your "better helps" and "better makes" are impermissible, "better matches" is perfectly fine. That's English for you.) – Dan Bron Aug 16 '14 at 14:12

Your examples are examples of the use of 'better' as a straightforward adverb. Though like most comparative adverbs, it would usually follow the object, rather than preceding the verb.

It better shows the color of your eyes would usually be It shows the color of your eyes better [than the other options] in America. Your usage is not outside some idiom, it is just so close to a common idiom that people avoid it.

OTOH two of your examples are off-center from another idiom: 'sense', 'help' and other pure virtues have a quantity, and not a quality.

Something does not 'make sense well', so it cannot 'better' do so. It 'makes a lot of sense'. Similarly something 'helps a lot' and does not 'help well'. All sense is good, and so it all help, there are only degrees. (There is an exception where one mechanism helps or makes sense of the same thing in a way more fitting to some situations than others, but it is not relevant to normal speech.)

Matching has a quality, as do most more-active verbs. So one thing can better match another than other options. Showing, explaining, etc. can be done well or poorly. So 'better + verb' makes sense with the right kinds of verb.

  • Thanks, helpful. So what about for example "I will chose X, because it better helps me than Y."? – Ali Shakiba Aug 17 '14 at 14:50
  • That is the exception that I dismissed in parentheses above. You cannot cover all bases. It seldom comes up in normal speech because folks would ordinarily say 'it helps me more'. – Jon Jay Obermark Aug 17 '14 at 15:35
  • Also, just sliding the comparative back before the verb like that slows people down. Splitting up "better than" is proper, but may feel pretentious. It is grammatically smoother (adverb + verb is nice) but it separates the parts of the more important construction (comparative + compared). – Jon Jay Obermark Aug 18 '14 at 14:55

Don't forget, the "it" is one thing - singular

It better help!

It better make sense!

It better match the others!

It's that simple!

Here's a popular song from 1981 where the lyrics plays on the colloquialisms "you better" and "you bet!"


If you're asking about the "other" direction:

It helps me to prepare, better than, some-other-thing.

It makes better sense, than, some-other-thing.

It better matches the others....

... you could mean either:

It matches the XYZ, better than, the others match the XYZ.


It matches all the others, better than, some-other-thing.

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    +1. The answer would be even better if incised some discussion of "it better" vs "it had better", and the semantic mplications of the matter. – Dan Bron Aug 16 '14 at 13:44
  • Thanks, however I didn't meant "had better", I have updated the question. That's why I used helps/makes/matches. – Ali Shakiba Aug 16 '14 at 13:59
  • @johns, thanks for the clarification. Based on the extended examples, I'd say *no, the sentences are not grammatical and don't make sense (and as a side-effect, Joe's answer here no longer applies). There are other ways to express the same ideas, though as I said, that's a question better suited to our sister site. – Dan Bron Aug 16 '14 at 14:04
  • Hi John - again you should go to ELL (as Dan explains). Note that all question about "multiple meanings!" are just closed. It's utterly normal in English that sentences are ambiguous, and can only be understood, by context. – Fattie Aug 16 '14 at 14:07

I think the word 'more' is the word you are looking for on the first two, here:

It helps me more.

It makes more sense


Better refers to an increase in quality while more refers to an increase in quantity.

If you say something helps you better, then you are saying the quality of help is greater when compared to something else.

If you say something helps you more, you are saying you received a greater amount of help than something else.

Does this help?

  • Thanks, however my question is if better+verb is correct or not and I would like to learn the grammar usage of better. My question is not how to communicate the meaning. – Ali Shakiba Aug 16 '14 at 17:49
  • I understand and have edited my response. Is this more what you wanted? – Peramia Aug 16 '14 at 18:13
  • Thanks, but not really, my question is if better can come before verb: "better+verb". Please see question comments. – Ali Shakiba Aug 16 '14 at 18:17
  • By the way, while in my question I have already mentioned that "where better means more" how could I be looking for "more"?! :) – Ali Shakiba Aug 16 '14 at 18:22

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