6

When I use the word better I've always used like

it's better (for someone) to ~(Infinitive verb)

I recently found out

better off ~(verb+ing)

is also commonly used in conversation and I can't tell the difference between those two even after reading the explanation about them saying better off is more like a better situation.

For example

It's better to take a bus at night.
It's better off taking a bus at night.

It's better for the school to offer more courses.
It's better off offering more courses.
( I'm even confused about where and how to put the school in this sentence..)

7

A quick look at MiCase shows a difference in usage.

Better + infinitive follows the impersonal it: It is better to take a bus at night. It is better for the school to offer more courses.

Better + off + gerund is used after nouns and personal pronouns: I am better off taking a bus at night. The school is better off offering more courses.

  • Stress what this answer says that the others so far lack: [Better + off + gerund][2] takes a noun or personal pronoun. The sentence "It's better off taking a bus at night" is not standard, but "I am better off taking a bus at night" and "It's better to take a bus at night" are – Colin McLarty Mar 14 '16 at 9:12
2

When you say

It's better to take a bus at night.

you mean that the idea of taking a bus is better than the idea of using any other means of transportation whereas when you say

It's better off taking a bus at night.

you mean the situations/circumstances that would arise after taking the bus at night would be better.

Same goes for the later example. When you say

It's better for the school to offer more courses.

you mean that the idea of offering more courses seems better at the time of speaking( but you're not sure whether or not it'd create better circumstances later). But when you say

It's better off offering more courses.

you're sure that it'd create better circumstances for school in future,however the idea itself may not seem so good at the time of speaking(as it may require a lot of investment for the school).

I concluded these results after reading Gary Botnovcan's and SlugFiller's answers here.

  • To me, the phrases starting "It's better off" are unnatural, borderline ungrammatical. – Colin Fine Mar 14 '16 at 10:48
2

The adjective better in the sentence means more useful or suitable.

The adjective/idiom better before the -ing form of a verb is used to mean "in a more useful/suitable condition/situation".

This adjective is also used to express that you have more money than you had before or someone else has, for example, I am better off now that I have been promoted.

I think you can use either better or better off in the first sense, without any significant difference in meaning.

0

If you're using 'better off' then you would be referring to an object or person, for example:

'I'm better off taking the bus at night.'

'The school would be better off if it offered more courses.'

This implies that the object, person etc. would gain from the situation.

Otherwise you're much 'better off' using:

'It's better to take a bus at night'

0

Better off typically means "Those who are more wealthy". http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/better-off

However, in British English, it can be used to indicate the preferable course; "You're better off doing it that way", "I'm better off since I dropped that course", usually indicating a financial or time benefit. They are always used to directly refer to a human (I/You/He/She/They) as the object of the sentence and a action/path.
http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/better+off

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