to be better off

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Senior Member

Does ''to be better off'' or ''to be worse off'' have the same meaning as ''to be better'' or ''to be worse''.

Many thanks
  • Musical Chairs

    Senior Member
    Japan & US, Japanese & English
    I think "to be better off" has to do with conditions being better, as opposed to "to be better" which has to do with...being better?

    "I am better off than you.": This means that I am in a better situation than you. A lot of times, this has to do with money like "homeless people suffer more than those who are better off."
    "I am better than you.": This means that there is something about me that makes me better than you (perhaps in terms of intelligence, talent, personality, etc).

    Edit: same with "worse off"
    No, they don't mean the same thing. If you describe something as better or worse, you are describing the condition of the person or thing itself.

    If you describe something as being better off or worse off, you are describing the circumstances surrounding that person or thing (and most commonly, the financial circumstances.)

    After John became a corrupt politician, he was better off financially, but he was the worse man for it. His children grew up very well off, but they were not good people.

    John realized that money does not buy happiness, and became a school teacher in a poor neighborhood. John is worse off financially, but he thinks he has become a better man.


    Canada (English)
    Better and worse are for specific traits, whereas better off and worse off are for overall, general states. I'm becoming a better runner (specific). Since moving to Toronto, I'm better off (everything is a little better on average).
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