Hello everyone!!
I'd like to ask you what is the difference between would be and would have been?

Eg: It would be better if.....
It would have been better if.....

What is the rule how to use each of those expressions?
Thank you very much for your answer :-)
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Anonymouswhat's the difference between WOULD BE and WOULD HAVE BEEN.
It would be better if ...
It would have been better if ...
The difference is in whether it's TOO LATE to change your decision.
Let's say you're driving somewhere, and you can take the high road or the low road to get there.

"It WOULD BE better IF you took the high road" - You haven't made your decision yet, and this person is saying that you SHOULD take the high road, because that WILL be, or WOULD BE, better.
"It WOULD HAVE BEEN better IF YOU HAD TAKEN the high road" - It's too late now, you've taken the low road, but this person is saying that you SHOULD HAVE taken the high road.

"WOULD HAVE BEEN" refers to the time IN THE PAST when you made the decision to take the low road. At that time, if you had chosen to take the high road, it WOULD HAVE BEEN better.

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Thank you very much Kris.
I see... I'm sorry - just a mistake...
In the entry for IDIOM in A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (my hardback is the classic first edition) by Mr Fowler:

Idiom is any form of expression that, as compared with other forms in which the principles of abstract grammar, if there is such a thing, would have allowed the idea in question to be clothed, has established itself as the particular way preferred by Englishmen & therefore presumably characteristic of them.

IS is used to refer to a simple, unconditional present situation, but WOULD HAVE ALLOWED is a past hypothetical situation; could you tell me why it isn't WOULD ALLOW?
Is, isn't, would, wouldn't, and so on apply to present situations. Would have, could have, should have, might have, shouldn't have, etc apply to past hypothetical situations where it's now too late to change what happened; they relate to choices that were made in the past and what the outcome may have been if different choices had been made at the time.
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But in that case, isn't the meaning strange? Fowler relates a past hypothetical situation to a present non-hypothetical situation. Of course I can't challenge his grammar, but isn't it better to say

if there were (or had been) such a thing, would have XYZ-ed....


if there is such a thing, would allow....

to make it consistent? HW Fowler's usage is a mixed one, but it isn't intelligible.
I see what you're saying, but...

The clause "if there is such a thing" is a parenthetical comment on "the principles of abstract grammar". His parenthetical comment is saying that he has some doubt whether there "is such a thing" as "the principles of abstract grammar", in a general way, not specifically in relation to the time when the idiom was formed, i.e. when the idiomatic word or phrase became idiomatic.

In Fowler's opinion, the question of whether there "is such a thing" as "the principles of abstract grammar" is a general one, which (presumably) applied at the time when the idiom was formed, but still applies now. It doesn't really relate to any specific time, past or present, although it is expressed in the present tense.

Is this sentence exactly the same structure as Fowler's and grammatical?

If poetry is to be defined by the subject matter alone, Mr Walcott would have ended up with material five times superior to that of the bard who wrote in the Ionian dialect and who, too, loved the sea.
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