+0
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
Comments  
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... Emotion: rolleyes

Many thanks,
Hela
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
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.

Thank you in advance.
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"
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
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
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Show more