So, I was in hello talk writing about how eating ramen everyday might not be healthy:

(I will number the sentences)

1 - ...だから、時々ラーメンを食べたほうがいいね

Then, a native speaker corrected my sentence to:

2 - だから、たまにラーメンを食べるほうがいいね

Someone told me in the past that in order to say "I should..." I had to use the pattern 「た+ほうがいい」 is it wrong?

@Goldbrick also helped me in the chat saying that he'd rather say something like:

3 - だからラーメンを食べるのは時どきだけにしたほうがいい


4 - だからラーメンは時どき食べるぐらいにしたほうがいい

He, this time used the したほうがいい pattern instead of するほうがいい. But he couldn't exactly explain why's that...

So when should I use するほうがいい and したほうがいい to mean should?

Thanks in advance!

  • Possible duplicate: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/56097/…, which really just points to detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1314629248
    – mamster
    Aug 16, 2018 at 14:30
  • 1
    @mamster I agree that the questions address the same issue, but the answers in there are not as detailed as I'd like, also since I had mixed answers by 2 native speakers, i'd like a better insight in this one Aug 16, 2018 at 14:34
  • @mamster, so it's like したほうがいい is used when offering advice to a specific, personal "you" and するほうがいい is used with a more general "everybody" sort of "you"? Aug 16, 2018 at 14:36
  • 1
    That's what the Yahoo answerer seems to be saying, but I'm not sure how well that conforms with the usage I've heard. And I can't decide whether I agree with the interlocutor in OP's question. So I guess maybe this isn't a duplicate! Saying a few sentences to myself aloud, I do feel like "するほうがいい” feels like more general advice and "したほうがいい” sounds more like "You should..." but it's not a strong distinction. Let's wait to hear from native speakers!
    – mamster
    Aug 16, 2018 at 14:40
  • Possible duplicate: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/24426/… Aug 16, 2018 at 19:57

2 Answers 2


You were trying to say you shouldn't eat ramen too frequently, right? Then 時々食べたほうがいい is wrong because it recommends to eat ramen to some extent than nothing.

Adverbs don't determine polarity of a sentence in Japanese unlike English. e.g ほとんど殺した means "killed almost everyone", not "almost killed".

In addition, したほうがいい is an advice for a specific or an actual problem. た form represents that something is concrete. When you are fishing and find some shape, you say いる いる… then, once you confirm it as a fish, you say いた. そういうこと means things like that while そういったこと means things including that. That's how they are different.

In this regard, たまに食べるほうがいい is a little better, if not enough, because it's a criteria for a general problem apart from if you actually do or not.

時々だけにしたほうがいい and 時々食べるくらいにしたほうがいい are fine because either part before したほうがいい stands for refraining from eating too much and したほうがいい recommends to carry out that.

  • So, in a sense, do you think that するほうがいい is a bit more opinion based, while したほうがいい more of a common sense kind of thing? Your answer was pretty good, i'm just not getting while in the last part したほうがいい is ok, it's a bit confusing Aug 17, 2018 at 13:54
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    It could be, but that's not the point. したほうがいい is recommendation while するほうがいい is judgement. Recommendation to eat more is the worst but that to eat less is the best.
    – user4092
    Aug 18, 2018 at 2:07

FIrstly, するほうがいい and したほうがいい are the same basically, but strictly they are different.

We tend to choose するほうがいい when we talk about the generic ideas. For example, we can say "身体にいいものを食べるほうがいい" to tell a generic idea.

Suppose you have a friend who eats junk foods every day and never eat vegetables. You are worrying about him/her. You can say "身体にいいものを食べたほうがいい". We tend to choose したほうがいい when you talk about the specific issue.

Secondly, I'd like to mention your sentences, #1 and #2. ほうがいい is used when you compare (A) with (B) and (A) is better.

In the case of your sentences, you compare (A) eating ramen sometimes with (B) not eating ramen sometimes and say (A) is better. So, the sentences #1 and #2 sound you encourage your friend to eat ramen.

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