How to use WOULD RATHER in English
In this lesson you will learn how to use WOULD RATHER in English. Would rather is used to show preference for one thing over another, for example:
I would rather eat fish tonight.
In this sentence ‘would rather’ means ‘would prefer’. You could also say I would prefer to eat fish tonight.
The structure uses the verb in the infinitive without ‘to’. Look at these examples:
- I would rather cook than wash the dishes.
- He’d rather visit London than Paris.
- We’d rather not go to the cinema tonight.
- We’d rather stay at home tonight.
- I’d rather go to the cinema on Tuesday.
You can also see how we abbreviate the subject and ‘would’.
‘Would rather‘ can also be used with a past tense but the meaning is present. For example: I would rather he played football this year. The difference is that we have two subjects so we use a past tense. After the second subject we use a past tense.
But as you can see, we are not talking about the past even though we are using a past tense. This is called the Unreal Past.
Look at these examples:
- I’d rather you went to pick up Tom from school.
- He’d rather you didn’t come over for dinner tonight.
- Would you rather I wasn’t so boring?
Remember that ‘would rather’ and ‘prefer’ can be used interchangeably:
- I’d rather text someone than talk by phone
- I prefer texting to speaking on the phone.
So, which tense would you rather use?
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