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I have the following sentence:

  • 早く行った方が良かったでしょう。

Here, if we take it apart we shall have:

  • 早く(Adverb) 行った(Verb, Past tense) 方(?) が(GA, Subject particle) 良かったでしょう(Verb, Past tense) 。

What is the function of 方 in this position? I've read that it can be suffix, suffix of what?

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1  
may we see some of the context for this sentence? I would like to provide a more accurate translation. –  yadokari Aug 20 '12 at 16:46

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

A方{ほう}がB means "more B if A" or "Ber if A":

早く行った方が良かったでしょう。
It would have been better [more good] if (we/you/I etc) had gone early, would it not?

The here indicates a direction/side when comparing 2 or more things ([3] (イ) of this definition at Daijirin), in this case implying going early would have been better than going later.

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I agree with Cypher's explanation, and with Ignacio's definition of 方 as a noun.

I would like to propose an alternative translation of the sentence:

早く行った方が良かったでしょう。

"The sooner you went, the better."

"The sooner you had gone, the better."

"It probably would have been better if you had gone sooner."

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If anyone would care to point out my mistakes here, or say which is the more accurate translation attempt, I would appreciate it. Thanks~ –  yadokari Aug 20 '12 at 16:41
    
My only issue with this translation is that a beginner would be confused as to which is A and which B given that they are both more X or X er. –  dotnetN00b Aug 20 '12 at 23:02
    
@dotnet point taken. I am going for a natural sounding translation though, so i think this pattern fits well. –  yadokari Aug 20 '12 at 23:40

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