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Does tense of the verbs matter in the comparison part of the sentence? As I understand the main difference should come from the main verb/adjective.

Forexample, in the sentences that are equivalent to English constrictions It would be better... and It would have been better..., are all the past/non-past tense combinations allowed in the comparison below?

  1. 私が話方が君が話よりいい
  2. 私が話した方が君が話よりいい
  3. 私が話方が君が話したよりいい
  4. 私が話方が君が話よりよかった
  5. 私が話した方が君が話よりよかった
  6. 私が話方が君が話したよりよかった
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    I'd rather say 「君が話すより私が話した方が…」
    – chocolate
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 7:17
  • 1
    In terms of nuance, the diff between 1 and 2 is kinda like "it's better that I speak" vs "it's better for me to be speaking" while diffs between 1-3 vs 4-6 are more on the "would be" vs "would have been" side as you mention.
    – dungarian
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 7:42

1 Answer 1

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  1. As Chocolate says in the comments, it’s better for the より clause to come first, otherwise the sentence feels scrambled/focused and is harder to make judgments about.

  2. In general, it’s best to use the た-form before ほう. The plain form is also technically possible but it gives a sort of categorical reading instead of making a concrete suggestion. See this answer for more on that.

  3. The plain form should be used before より here. The た-form doesn’t feel grammatical here to me because it feels like it’s be referring to the contents of something which happened as opposed to the action (though you see it in unrelated constructions like 思ったより or 予想したより, where the part before より is acting like a nominal referring to what the person thought or expected, and in fact even permits が-の conversion like 彼の想定したより遥かに早かった or whatever)

  4. As for the matrix tense of いい vs よかった, it should simply be whichever tense you want for “would be better” vs “would have been better” (or “should” vs “should have”).

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    Thank you for a very detailed and great explanation!
    – user1602
    Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 4:24

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