Could be worse/ Could've been worse?

Ashraful Haque

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According to Macmillan dictionary could be worse means:
'used for saying that a situation is better than it might have been, although it is still bad'
Example sentence: Could be worse. At least you didn’t lose any money.

The example sentence doesn't sound quiet right to me. Shouldn't it be 'could've been worse'?
 

probus

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Although both are acceptable the meanings differ slightly because of the tenses. The present tense is used, as usual, when something regrettable is happening currently. The perfect tense is used when referring to events that occurred in the past
 

Ashraful Haque

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Although both are acceptable the meanings differ slightly because of the tenses. The present tense is used, as usual, when something regrettable is happening currently. The perfect tense is used when referring to events that occurred in the past
Say you go to a restaurant without knowing that it's the most expensive place in town. The waiter comes to you with a bill and my friend says:
"Could've been worse. At least we can split it."
"Could be worse. At least we can split it."

Are you saying the first one is the correct one to say in this situation?
 

5jj

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Either is possible.
 

probus

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I concur with 5jj that both are possible, but personally I'd use the simple present in that restaurant situation
 

5jj

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I'd use the simple present in that restaurant situation
Do you mean by that could be? I wouldn't call that a simple present form.
 

probus

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That's what I meant. Excuse me if I got the name of the tense wrong. My knowledge of grammatical terms is slight.
 

jutfrank

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Is there any situation where one would be absolutely wrong?

Yes. As we've said, could be worse is about a present situation and could've been worse is about a past one. So if you're referring only to a present situation, then could've been worse is wrong.
 

emsr2d2

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Examples:

Alison: I fell off my bike yesterday!
Bob: Oh no! I hope you're OK.
Alison: It could have been worse. I grazed both knees and I've got a black eye.

Helen: How's work at the moment?
Peter: It could be worse. We're a bit short-staffed but we're managing.
 
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