Expressing "had better" with "haishi"

One of the ways to use 还是 (háishì) is to have it mean "you had better," after having compared two options. Usually there's even a bit of deliberation before the speaker announces what "it would be better" to do, using 还是.


还是 as an adverb can express "had better" or "it would be better to." The idea is that the speaker has given the matter some thought, and after considering it, has finally come to a decision. The announcement of this decision will frequently include 还是, and it usually comes before a verb or a subject.

Subj. + 还是 + [Verb Phrase] + 吧

吧 is often placed after this structure, as it's a suggestion.


  • 还是 明天 去 吧 。Háishì míngtiān qù ba.We'd better go tomorrow.
  • 还是 让 她 进来 吧 。Háishì ràng tā jìnlái ba.We'd better let her come in.
  • 还是 快点 走 吧 。háishì kuài diǎn zǒu ba.You'd better leave now.
  • 我们 还是 帮帮 他 吧 。Wǒmen háishì bāngbang tā ba.We'd better help him.
  • 太 晚 了 ,还是 先 回家 吧 。Tài wǎn le, háishì xiān huíjiā ba.It's too late. We'd better go home now.
  • 这里 太 脏 了,我们 还是 走 吧 。Zhèlǐ tài zāng le, wǒmen háishì zǒu ba.It's too dirty here; we'd better leave.
  • 快 迟到 了 ,我们 还是 打车 吧 。Kuài chídào le, wǒmen háishì dǎchē ba.We're running late. Let's take a taxi.

When the part after 还是 is a negative verb phrase, it's OK to drop the 吧 at the end.

  • 太 贵 了 ,还是 别 买 了 。Tài guì le, háishì bié mǎi le.It's too expensive. You'd better not buy it.
  • 她 不 想 说 ,还是 不要 再 问 了 。Tā bù xiǎng shuō, háishì bùyào zài wèn le.She doesn't want to say. We'd better not ask again.
  • 他 一定 不 同意 ,还是 别 跟 他 说 了 。Tā yīdìng bù tóngyì, háishì bié gēn tā shuō le.He will definitely not agree to it. We'd better not say anything to him.

See also

Sources and further reading