0

Don't blame me. I didn't make it worse than it was.

This sentence sounds fine to me, as it looks analogous to another utterance I know to be idiomatic "It's worse than it looks". But I wonder if question words can also be inserted after "than". Does the meaning change in the following sentences?

Don't blame me. I didn't make it worse than what/how it was.

It's worse than how it looks.

Also, it seems to me the past perfect tense here would be more logically/grammatically sound. Is the past perfect needed here? Does it change the meaning?

Don't blame me. I didn't make it worse than it had been.

  • @Lambie That part is duly noted and well understood. I think that's where my question came from. I thought the supposed "change" would be the mark in time. – Eddie Kal Sep 28 '18 at 18:27
  • "worse than it was/worse than what it was" as forms is a separate question from "had been" versus "was". – Lambie Sep 28 '18 at 18:29
  • @Lambie Probably guilty of going for a twofer as you say :) – Eddie Kal Sep 28 '18 at 18:34
1

Don't blame me. I didn't make it worse than it was.

This sentence is fine and probably the best way to say this.

Don't blame me. I didn't make it worse than what/how it was.

Don't say "how it was" here. It may not be ungrammatical in a strict sense, but it doesn't sound like a native speaker. Using "what" here is ok and I can't think of any change in the meaning. It would be more common to omit the word and stick with your initial sentence.

It's worse than how it looks

Again, it doesn't seem ungrammatical to me, but it's awkward and unnecessary. It would be much more common to simply say "it's worse than it looks."

Now, about the past perfect case

Don't blame me. I didn't make it worse than it had been.

The meaning is different here. This sentence implies that the situation was bad, someone made it worse, and now the situation is over and in the past. The first sentences are used when the situation was bad and someone made it worse, and the situation is ongoing or its current status is not being discussed.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.