# Would Rather?

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Dear teachers,

What are the different uses of "would rather" ?

Would rather In the past:

a) would rather + perfect infinitive: if there is only a subject.

e.g. We went by sea but I’d rather have gone by air.
(I wanted to go by air, but didn’t get my wish)

b) if there is 1 subject + 1 object : it doesn’t change ?

e.g. I would rather you have gone by air (?)

Would you have other examples ?

Many thanks,
Hela
1 2 3
No.
b) is "Id rather you had gone by air.

The construction with "I 'd rather" is either
+ bare infinitive (present or past) when there is only one subject/when the subject is the same
EG: I'd rather do it myself
I'd rather have have done it myself (I would have preferred to do it myself)

or with what I call "modal preterite" when there are 2 subjects
EG: I'd rather you did it yourself
I'd rather you had done it yourself

WHAT is the current name for a "modal preterite"?
Sorry, I meant "HAD gone" (past perfect) in both cases i.e. whether we have one subject or two = to express a regret.

a) I went by sea but I would rather had gone by air.

b) They went by sea but I would rather they had gone by air. (= no change)

Am I right ?

On the other hand I didn't know that there was a "present" bare infinitive and a "past" bare infinitive. What's the difference between:

a) I would rather Go home. (bare inifinitive)
b) I would rather HAVE GONE home. (perfect infinitive)
c) I would rather HAD GONE home. (past perfect ?)

Sorry but I'm getting confused...

Many thanks,
Hela
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With "would rather", you have two possible constructions.

1. Only one subject/the same subject = I = "would rather + bare infinitive"
"I'd rather go by plane" = (present infinitive)"I still have the choice, and my favourite is the plane"
"I'd rather have gone by plane"= (past infinitive) I travelled by boat, but I wish I had travelled by plane", yet it's too late, I can't change anything.

2. Two different subjects = S1 would rather S2
"She(S1)'d rather you (S2) went by plane" = it's still possible.
"They(S1)'d rather you (S2) had gone by plane" = it's too late.
Now, What do you think of the following sentences. Are they correct ?

1) I would have done better to arrive earlier.
2) It would have been better if you had arrived earlier.

Are they equivalent to :

3) You would rather have arrived earlier.
4) I would rather you had arrived earlier.

Hela
1) I would have done better to arrive earlier : not correct; you can say "I wish I had arrived earlier"/ "I should have arrived earlier"

2) It would have been better if you had arrived earlier : correct, but a shorter way is "I wish you had arrived earlier"
Are they equivalent to :

3) You would rather have arrived earlier.
4) I would rather you had arrived earlier.

1) # 3) it's not the same person
2) = 4), but somehow using " 'd rather" with a past infinitive sounds strange. I wouldn't say it's not grammatical, but it's weird to "prefer" (which hints at th future) something that has already been done. In that case it's better to use "wish", meaning "regret"
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Hello Hela, hello Pieanne,

I would look at it slightly differently:

1) I would have done better to arrive earlier.
– this is correct; it makes a comparison (arriving earlier vs arriving when I in fact arrived) and states the better option.

2) It would have been better if you had arrived earlier.
– yes, fine. This is a type 3 conditional.

3) You would rather have arrived earlier.
If I say 'I would have done better to arrive earlier', you can say 'in that case, you would rather have arrived earlier!' (Though it would not be a scintillating conversation.)

4) I would rather you had arrived earlier.
This is not quite the same as #2: #4 has an air of faint reproach, whereas #2 can have an air of reproach, but can also be a plain statement of fact.

MrP
Sorry, Hela, sorry MrP...
Well, 'I would rather' is a very peculiar construction (cf. 'Would that I had come earlier!').

At first glance, Hela's #4 looks like an ellipsis of some kind:

1. I would rather (that it were true that) you had arrived earlier

But then we're still left with 'would' followed by 'that'.

I wonder whether it derives directly from the older meaning of 'will/would' ('want', 'desire'). If so, 'would' here might simply be a past tense form, used for 'politeness' or 'irreality':

2. I would rather you had arrived earlier =>

3. I desire, rather, that you had arrived earlier.

But this is merely speculation. With luck a 'will/would' buff will fly by and correct me.

MrP
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