Be better off could be used to express that something is better than another. For instance,

I would be better off driving insead instead of taking a bus.

Can we say

I would rather drive than take a bus?

with the same meaning? So, my question is about differences and grammar of this structures.

  • 2
    The two expressions mean completely different things, as should be obvious if you consult any dictionary. You might rather eat junk food, but you'd be better off eating a healthy diet. Jan 25 '15 at 18:22
  • @FumbleFingers No, it shouldn't because I looked up it in dictionaries. What I've understood is that we can use would rather when we're talking about something that is more preffered than another.
    – St.Antario
    Jan 25 '15 at 18:30
  • To be better off - to be in a better situation, if or after something happens. Rather more readily or willingly : preferably <I'd rather not go> <would rather read than watch television> —often used interjectionally to express affirmation. The difference between personal "preference" and objective "improvement" seems quite clear to me, and I'd have thought that distinction could easily be made in any language. Jan 25 '15 at 18:38
  • @FumbleFingers Ok, I got that. But can we say it would be better off driving instead of taking the bus to me? Is it incorrect/ungrammatical?
    – St.Antario
    Jan 25 '15 at 19:09
  • 1
    No, you can't use "existential 'it'" like that. It would have to be "I/you/he/we/etc. would be better off [doing this rather than that]". But I think these type of questions are better suited to English Language Learners Jan 25 '15 at 21:24

Better off implies that something would be more beneficial to the subject, whereas would rather has a connotation of personal preference.

For example, one could say: "I would rather skip my chores and watch a movie, but I'd be better off if I did them right now."

  • So, it's not quite clear about a difference between be better off and should have + pp in a case like I should have driven and I would have been better off driving. Both structures describe beneficials to tthe subject.
    – St.Antario
    Jan 25 '15 at 19:16
  • @St.Antario "Should" implies obligation and/or something beneficial, while "being better off" pretty much only addresses benefit to the subject. (So: "I should donate more money to charity, but I'd be better off if I put it in my savings.") "Should have" and "being better off" can also be used interchangeably--"I should have driven" and "I would have been better off driving" have the same meaning.
    – Elizabeth
    Jan 25 '15 at 19:29

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