Is ‘I would rather’ = ‘I had rather’. For example:

I would rather that you told him than I did = I had rather that you told him than I did.
I would rather not go = I had rather not go
Hello MrM

Thank you for the nice info.

Reading the article I got curious about how come the construction "had rather X" came into English and studied it through OED. What I learned is as follows;

1) In English there are many similar expressions. They can be all represented by a construct:
had adv X or V
A : 'as good', 'as well', 'as soon', 'better', 'sooner', 'best'.
X : a noun or a verb in the bare infinitive form

2) The bare-form verbs in this construct works as nouns. I am interested that in English you use sometimes bare-form verbs as nouns. (EX) What I have to do now is study hard.

3) 'Had' here is the past subjunctive past of 'have', and this 'have' means 'mentally/physically undergo' like in that exemplified by 'I have a cold' or 'I have thirst'. The subjunctive past is used to express speaker's wishing..

4) The earliest form of these expression in Old English was "Me/him were better/liefer X."

755 Chron. an. Þa cuædon hie þæt him næniy mæy leofra nære. 971 Blickl. Hom. 25 Him wære betere þæt he næfre yeboren nære. c1000 Ælfric Gen. ***. 19 Leofre me ys þæt ic hiy sylle þe. c1330 R. Brunne Chron. 172 Better him wer...in clostre haf led his life. c1386 Chaucer Frankl. T. 794 Yet were hym leuere abyde. 1390 Gower Conf. II. 306 He cast what thing him were best to do. c1394 P. Pl. Crede 16 Þerfor lerne þe byleue leuest me were. 1614 W. Browne Sheph. Pipe Wks. 21 Leuer me were be slaine.

5) In the time of Middle English, side by side with , "Me/him were better/liefer X", expressions in the form of "I/he had liefer/better X" appeared. The use of 'rather' started in the later Middle English and 'as well'. The OED gives any quote to indicate the time when 'had sooner X' came into use. But as 'sooner' is often used as a phrase synonymous to 'rather', it would begin to be used as early as 'had rather X'.

c1340 Cursor M. 6235 (Fairf.) We had leyuer [Cott. vs leuer ware] euermare to serue in egipte...þen in þe wildernes to dey. c1340 Hampole Prose Tr. 25 Thei had welle lever haue bene stille. c1386 Chaucer Friar's T. 276 An old rebekke, That hadde almoost as lief to lese hire nekke, As for to yeue a peny of hir good. c1435 Torr. Portugal 1186 Better he had to have be away. 14++ Chester Pl. (E.E.T.S.) iii. 99 I had as lief thou sleppit. 1470–85 Malory Arthur (1817) II. 109 Of alle knyghtes I had levest have you. 1478 Marg. Paston in Paston Lett. No. 818. III. 231 I had rather that ye never maryd in yowyr lyffe. 1485 Caxton Paris & V. 47 She had as leef to deye as to lyue. 1523 Ld. Berners Froiss. (1812) I. 168 They had rather that their lord therle shulde take the kyng of Englandes doughter. 1533 Gold. Bk. M. Aurel. Lvij, I had rather to bee Cato. 1590 Shakes. Com. Err. ii. 6 Sconce call you it? I had rather haue it a head. 1595 True Tragedie, etc. in First Sketches (1843) I thinke I had as good Goe with you. 1601 Shakes. Twel. N. iii. ii. 34 I had as liefe be a Brownist, as a Politician. 1665 Cotton Poet. Wks. (1765) 134 He had better, far...have been drown'd. 1712 Addison Spect. No. 287 33 There had better be none at all. 1768 Goldsm. Good-n. Man ii. (Globe) 622/2 You had as good make a point of first giving away yourself. 1844 Mozley Ess. II. 27 You must give way; and you had as well do so voluntarily. 1844 B. Barton Selections (1849) *** I had almost as well never have been a child. 1847 Marryat Childr. N. Forest *** I had rather that you had fired through his arm. 1859 Trollope Bertrams (1867) 335 I'd as lief have an old man as a young one; perhaps liefer. 1878 W. H. Mallock New Republic 145 I had best not give her any.

I hope someone will find this useful.

Anonymouswhat What is the meaning of "had rather"?

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Here's a complete [url="http://www.bartleby.com/64/C001/054.html "]EXPLANATION[/url]
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what is meaning of had rather?
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I have the same question although I beleive "had rather" is what it should be accroding to English book.