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It seems that when you mean "A is more X than B" with the formula AのほうがBよりX, ほうが is completely a fixed element in this idiom and not replaceable with は. The argument Bより, however, can be followed by an extra topic particle: ~よりは, ~よりも. Alternatively, using another noun instead of ほう will make the sentence valid, such as: 前のアパートより今のところは広いです。 But ...


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I'm not sure how to best answer your question, but here goes: is it generally allowed to use は within an indirect quote? Yes, you can use は in indirect quotes. Although, I might be misunderstanding what you mean by "indirect quote", because I don't think it's always possible to determine if a quote is direct/indirect. My dad said smartphones are ...


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