Would rather

From Teflpedia

Would rather is an English lexical-grammatical structure which is used to express preference.


Simplest form - general preference[edit]

The simplest form is like this (e.g.)

"I would rather drink tea than coffee"

Note the similarity to would prefer, but since rather is an adverb and prefer a verb, prefer "I would prefer to drink tea than coffee". Students may get these confused and say things like, e.g. *"I would rather to drink tea than coffee."

With a relative clause[edit]

"I would rather you made me a cup of tea than a cup of coffee."

Here the use of would backshifts the rest of the sentence into the past tense, but the meaning retains present/future irrealis. Note this doesn't happen with prefer to "I would prefer you to make me a cup of tea rather than coffee".

In past time[edit]

"I would rather have drunk a cup of tea than coffee"

Needs perfect. Compare "I would have preferred to have (had) a cup of tea rather than coffee".