you should've known better than

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stau la bloc

New Member
Romanian
Hello,

I couldn't find an explanation for this expression with Google. Also, I've put the question on another forum and didn't get a satisfying answer.
From what I've seen, "you should've known better than..." is followed by something undesirable, a negative outcome, and the meaning is "you shouldn't have done that".
And still, from a paper dictionary I've learned that it means something like "you should've known that it would be better to (do something)", so it would be followed by a desirable outcome.
Could someone please explain how can I use it correctly?

Thanks in advance.
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    You should've known better than to invest with him -- now you've lost all your money.
    You should've known better than to marry her -- now you've lost all your money.
    You should've known better than to take up photography -- now you've spent all your money.
    You should've known better than to listen to my advice -- now you're really in trouble.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    [....]
    And still, from a paper dictionary I've learned that it means something like "you should've known that it would be better to (do something)", so it would be followed by a desirable outcome.
    Could someone please explain how can I use it correctly?
    [....]
    Copyright has given you excellent examples, despite the fact that he is warning you against taking his advice.

    However, I am puzzled by what you say the book says. I can't think of any way that form of assertion would be followed by a positive outcome. The closest I can come to it is:
    If you had known better than to invest with him, you would still have your money.
    But we wouldn't usually say this that way, though it is grammatical and possible.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    "you should've known that it would be better to (do something)", so it would be followed by a desirable outcome.
    This is a different construction from "you should have known better than to ..", despite the similarity. It is focusing on the option that wasn't taken, the better option

    It is a combination of "It would have been better to have + past participle " and "You should have known that. (that = it would have been better) "


    It would have been better to have invested with GoLightlys
    You should have known that it would be/was better to invest with GoLightlys (than to invest in Lehmans)

    You should have known better than to invest in Lehmans

    :)

    HG
     
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