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Updated: Apr 19, 2022

The word 'should' is used a lot by Japanese speakers of English.

But I have some bad news for you.

It can sound a little overbearing, if you use it too much.

It's fine to use it now and again, but I'd like to introduce you to some softer and altogether more friendly ways of giving advice and recommendations.


① Have you ever thought about

So this is a nice passive way of making a suggestion.

It’s similar to "how about..?" or "what about..?"

but it creates a little more distance between you and the other person.

You could also use the verb ‘consider.’

If you use ‘consider,’ you don’t need to use ‘about.’

Let’s look at an actual real-life situation.

Imagine your co-worker’s gray hairs are showing just a little too much and you want to give some advice.

Bad example

(A) Keiko! You should dye your hair!

(B) What? Who do you think you are?

Good example

(A) Keiko! You know, I love your hair. It looks really smooth.

(A) Why, thank you. My shampoo’s very expensive.

(B) Have you ever thought about dying it? I think you’d look nice as a brunette.

(A) Yes, I’ve always thought about it. Thanks for the advice.


② Maybe you could..

Now this one is really simple, but it’s a lovely, gently way of giving advice that isn’t too 'in your face.'

Grammatically speaking 'could' is used in the same way as 'should.'

Sentences are made with a base verb.

So we have

Could + Base Verb

Should + Base verb

Remember, you don’t use an ‘ing’ verb with this one.

Also instead of using 'maybe,' you could spice things up a bit by using 'perhaps.'

Maybe you could do it later..

We could also say

Perhaps you could do it later..

This has a slightly more formal ring to it.

Let’s look how it’s used.

Imagine your wife is complaining about being overweight.

Bad example

(A) You know what Jennifer? You should go on a diet.

(B) What the..? You are soooooo insensitive!

Good Example

(A) Hey Cupcake! You’re looking lovely as always.

(B) Thanks. That’s so nice!

(A) You know, I’ve been thinking. Maybe you could join my gym..

(B) I guess I could lose a few pounds. Maybe we could go together..


③ It wouldn’t hurt to..

This expression is a little stronger in that you’re kind of criticizing the other person.

To criticize means to say something bad about someone’s attitude or performance.

For best results I’d use a nice, friendly tone of voice with this one.

In terms of grammar you are using

to + base verb

It wouldn’t hurt to buy a gift.

It wouldn’t hurt to say thanks.

It wouldn’t hurt to call her.

If we were too say it Japanese, it would sound something like this:

It wouldn’t hurt to ~


You can also insert ‘you’ after hurt. It’s quite a common way of speaking.

It wouldn’t hurt you to ~


Here’s how we could use it in a practical situation.

Imagine your partner has had a big argument with their best friend.

Bad example

(A) That was a terrible thing to say. You should apologize to her right now!

(B) Apologize???? Geez! I hate you!

Good Example

(A) Listen, I know you’re upset. I’ve been there, believe me.

(B) I guess you know me best.

(A) It wouldn’t hurt you to apologize. It’s best to make a fresh start.

(B) Yeah, you’re right. I’ll give her a call.


④ I always think it’s best to..

By adding ‘always’ it kind of distances yourself and makes it seem like you are just sharing some good old sage advice.

'Sage advice' means advice from a wise and experienced person.

For the grammar you are again using

to + base verb

I always think it’s best to save money every month.

It’s also common to use the negative version.

I always think it’s best not to spend all your money every month.

Here’s an example of how a real-life conversation might go.

Imagine your son has come home with some terrible test scores.

Bad example

(A) I got a D on my test.

(B) You got a D? You should study harder!

(A) I’m doing the best I can! You don’t know anything!

Good example

(A) I got a D on my test.

(B) You must be disappointed.

(A) Yeah. I don’t want to study any more.

(B) I always think it’s best to have a study plan. I can help you make one.

(A) You can? Oh thanks, dad! You’re the best!


⑤ You’d be better off..

When you want to kind of compare 2 choices, this is a great phrase.

You’d be better off doing A than B.

In regular conversation, you don’t need to say the B part.

The grammar look like this

You’d be better off

In Japanese this is the basic gist of it


You’d be better off staying home.

You’d be better off finding someone else.

We can also use it in a negative way

You’d be better off NOT buying that used car.

NOT comes before the ING verb.

Let’s apply it to real-life.

Imagine your friend starts wearing a wig and you think it looks ridiculous.

Bad example

(A) What do you think of my new look?

(B) Is that a wig? You shouldn’t wear that!

(A) It makes me feel young again. You’re a terrible friend!

Good example

(A) What do you think of my new look?

(B) Well, it definitely makes you look different.

(A) You think so?

(B) But in all honesty. You’d be better off just going bald naturally like Vin Diesel or Jason Statham.

(A) Maybe I won’t wear it after all. Thanks for your input!



If you want to keep a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, it's better not to overuse the word 'should.' By using some softer and less 'threatening' alternatives, you can keep the peace and avoid sounding like an annoying and overbearing person. Please watch the VIDEO LESSON on YouTube!

Thanks for reading!





dye your hair




in your face


spice things up


have a nice ring to it




it wouldn't hurt to 〜



Jesus Christ = なんてこった!

sage advice




You'd be better off 〜


the basic gist of it




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