Learn English – a or the before “better”

grammarusage

I am bit confused on what to put – 'a' or 'the' before "better"

for example

  • better life
  • better job
  • better work

Best Answer

If you're asking about the definite and indefinite articles in general, have a look at these questions on ELU and this question on ELL.

For better, there is another consideration that depends on the context of the situation. That is, it depends on the way in which you consider that life, job or work to be better.

For example, if Company A offers you a job that is more enjoyable and pays more than Company B, you are faced with a simple comparison. You might say:

Company A is offering a better job than Company B.

If Company A paid less than Company B, it's still a simple comparison (English-wise, anyway), and you can use the same sentence if you preferred Company A overall.

On the other hand, if you are contrasting an honest profession with a disreputable one, you're invoking something like Kant's categorical imperative. There's really only one choice that can even be considered good. In that case, you would use 'the'. For example:

Honest living may not pay as well as criminal activity, but it is the better life.