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We can use should have + pp to express our regrets about things that didn't happen in the past.

I should have talked to him about the car. (I regret, that I didn't talk to him)

In the other words it would be more beneficial to me to talk to him. Could we express the same idea with the be better off structure? As far as I understand, the structure's expressing that something would be beneficial to me.

I would have been better off talking to him about the car.

or

I should have been better off talking to him about the car.

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  • This exact use of should rather than would (in the final example) is primarily BrE, but most people would consider it dated/affected today. Jan 26 '15 at 14:41
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Your sentence

I would have been better off talking to him about the car.

Is the correct form. It means almost the same as -

I should have talked to him about the car.

But there is a subtle difference. Saying you would have been better off means that your life/emotional state would be better now if you had done so. However, no such assertion exists with 'I should have talked to him about the car,' but you still may have felt a moral obligation to do so.

The form:

I should have been better off talking to him about the car.

sounds incorrect to my AmE ears.

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  • So, the sentence and I should have talked to him about the car have completely the same meaning, do they? Is the last one incorrect?
    – St.Antario
    Jan 26 '15 at 4:12
  • Edited to add more detail, sorry if I wasn't clear. Jan 26 '15 at 4:19

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