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  • Would rather, would prefer – Grammar chart

    A grammar chart explaining the use of "would rather," "would sooner," "would prefer," and "prefer" to express preference. It includes examples and usage rules for each term.

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    Would rather/would sooner

    Would rather/sooner + infinitive … (than)

    We use would rather/sooner + infinitive (without to) to talk about preference. We can use it with than (+noun/infinitive) in affirmative sentences or with or in questions.

    • I‘d rather/sooner have tea, please. 
    • I‘d rather/sooner have tea than drink that coffee. 
    • Would you rather/sooner have tea or coffee?

    Would rather/sooner + subject + past simple

    We can use would rather/sooner + subject + past simple to refer to the present or future.

    • We‘d rather/sooner she was/were with us now.*
    • She‘d rather/sooner I picked her up after lunch. 
    • Would you rather/sooner we went by bus or by train?

    Note that we can use were instead of was with I/he/she after would rather + subject.


    (Would) prefer + to + infinitive … (rather than/instead of)

    We use prefer/would prefer + noun or to + infinitive to talk about specific preference, i.e. what we prefer on a specific occasion.

    • I would prefer to stay in a hotel near the airport. (or I would rather stay…)
    • Most clients prefer to have breakfast in their bedroom. 

    We can use prefer/would prefer with rather than or instead of to show the choices we have.

    • I would prefer to be too early rather than be too late. 
    • prefer to go with Dad instead of staying here with Mum. 

    Note that we use rather than + infinitive without to

    Prefer + -ing verb

    We use prefer + noun or -ing verb to talk about general preference, i.e. what we prefer in general, on every occasion.

    • I love running, but he prefers cycling

    We can use prefer with to to show the choices we have. The word to is a preposition here, so if we use a verb after to, it should take the -ing form.

    • He prefers walking to cycling