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When to use would rather?

We normally use would rather in order to show our preferences. If you want to express that you like or prefer one thing more than the other one then you can use this construction. Instead of would rather you can also use would sooner or would just as soon but they are less common. The other forms that express our preferences or suggestions are would prefer and had better but they take different grammar rules than would rather and I’m going to explain it to you in a different post. See below the basic would rather examples in sentences.

Would rather examples:

  • I would rather go out than stay at home tonight.
  • I’d rather take the bus than go on foot.
  • She would sooner eat out than cook at home.
  • They‘d sooner take some legal advice before they enter into the contract.
  • He‘d rather buy a flat than rent it.

would rather

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How to use would rather?

The would rather examples you can see above are very basic and simple. In fact, there are more rules of using this construction. The kind of grammar that you use after this phrase depends on a few factors. Firstly, it is very important if you use one subject (the person or thing that is performing the action) in a sentence or two different subjects. Secondly, it is essential whether you want to make a positive or negative sentence. Thirdly, it is crucial if your sentence refers to the present, future or to the past.

I know what you are thinking right now, that’s too difficult and complicated. It seems like that but just at the beginning. I will show you how to use would rather step by step. Follow the next steps carefully and I’m sure you’ll learn how to use would rather and this piece of grammar will become easy peasy for you.

would sooner

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Would rather with the same subject

For the present and for the future

I’ll try to explain the rules as simple as possible. Let’s divide a sentence with would rather into two parts. The first part (the main clause) contains a subject and the phrase would rather. The second part (the subordinate clause) contains a subject, a verb and the rest of the sentence.

When the subject is the same in both parts of the sentence then we use an infinitive (without to) in the second part of the sentence. See the examples:

  • I would rather (I) do the shopping today.
  • I’d rather pay the bills this week.
  • They would sooner sign the contract as soon as possible.
  • We‘d sooner wait with this decision.
  • He‘d rather keep it to himself. (not keeps)!

For the past

When we refer to the past, the grammar changes. When the subject is the same in both parts of the sentence then we use the Perfect Infinitive (have done). Just to remind you, the Perfect Infinitive is not the same as the Present Perfect Tense! See the examples:

  • I would rather have gone to the doctor. (e.g. yesterday)
  • She‘d rather have eaten her breakfast. (not has eaten)!
  • They would sooner have done it themselves.
  • I’d sooner have found out about this much earlier.
  • We‘d rather have been more responsible in that situation.

Negative sentences and questions

When it comes to the negative sentences, we do it in the second part of the sentence. In this case we form the negative infinitive. See the examples:

  • I would rather not cook today. (not don’t)!
  • He‘d rather not stay longer at work.
  • You‘d sooner not make a fool of yourself.
  • I’d rather not have lost my temper during the last meeting. (not haven’t lost)!
  • She‘d rather not have said that. (not hasn’t said)!

When it comes to the quesions, we do it in the first part of the sentence. See the examples:

  • Would you rather stay with me today?
  • Would they rather come tomorrow?
  • What would you rather choose?
  • Would she rather have spent her birthday alone?
  • Would they sooner have gone to Spain than to France?

I'd rather

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Would rather with different subjects

For the present and future

In the case when we have two different subjects in a sentence with would rather then the Unreal Tenses (Unreal Past) come into play.

When the subject in the first part of the sentence is different than in the second one then we use the Past Simple Tense in the second part of the sentence. See the examples:

  • I would rather you visited me tomorrow.
  • She‘d rather I changed my job.
  • He would sooner they were more responsible.
  • I‘d sooner he thought over this decision once again.
  • They‘d rather we expedited this process.

For the past

When we refer to the past, another tense must be used. When the subject in the first part of the sentence is different than in the second one then we use the Past Perfect Tense in the second part of the sentence. See the examples:

  • I would rather he had told me the truth.
  • She‘d rather I had brought some food but I didn’t have time to cook.
  • He would sooner they had informed him in advance.
  • We‘d sooner he had chosen another university. He’s gone his own way and I hope he won’t regret.
  • I’d rather you had done it yesterday.

Negative sentences and questions

When it comes to the negative sentences, we also do it in the second part of the sentence. In this case we use negative forms of the Past Simple Tense or the Past Perfect Tense. See the examples:

  • I would rather you didn’t talk to me like that never again.
  • I‘d rather she didn’t spend so much money. She should start thinking about some savings.
  • We‘d sooner he wasn’t so bad-tempered. He gets angry so quickly.
  • She would sooner he hadn’t come back home so late yesterday.
  • Luiza would rather her child hadn’t made so many mistakes.

When it comes to the questions, as previously, we do it in the first part of the sentence. See the examples:

  • Would you rather she stayed with them? (present)
  • Would Pam rather I wasn’t here?
  • Would you rather Ben came later today?
  • Would you rather I hadn’t told him the truth? (past)
  • Would she rather I hadn’t drunk so much last night?

'd sooner

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Learn and Practise Would Rather

As you can see there are a few things, rules to remember and all of it looks a little bit complicated. That’s why it is essential to get acquainted with this step by step. Start with the sentences with one subject and then move to the sentences with different subjects. Read the sentence examples very carefully and try to analyse them. Try to understand and remember the rules.

You have just learned a piece of theory. Now, it’s time for some practice. I’ve prepared for you a few exercises with Would Rather. Try to use your new knowlege doing the below quizes. Read the descriptions carefully to understand what the exercises is about.

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Would Rather – Exercise 1

An exercise with Would Rather with the same subject (present and future).

Choose the correct form of the verbs to complete the sentences.

1 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

They’d rather __________ the party at home.

2 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

Bella would rather __________ something useful for her birthday.

3 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

Mike would rather __________ than text.

4 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

I’d sooner __________ a chief than a chef. 

5 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

I’d rather __________ tomorrow.

6 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

I’d sooner__________ lunch myself, if you don’t mind.

7 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

He would rather __________ to work today.

8 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

We’d rather __________ for you.

9 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

Leo would rather __________ today. He feels dizzy.

10 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

Jane would rather __________ the bills this week.

Your score is

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Upper-Intermediate

Would Rather – Exercise 2

An exercise with Would Rather with the same subject (past).

Choose the corrcet form of the verbs to complete the sentences.

1 / 10

Samantha would rather _________that horror movie.

2 / 10

Laura would rather _________ at her child yesterday.

3 / 10

Josh would rather _________homeless than lived with his in-laws.

4 / 10

I’d rather _________ here.

5 / 10

They would sooner _________ for that candidate.

6 / 10

I would rather _________ a choice.

7 / 10

I’d rather _________ a better care of him.

8 / 10

Mia would rather _________ on weight so much.

9 / 10

He’d sooner _________ a surgeon instead of GP.

10 / 10

George would rather _________married.

Your score is

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Upper-Intermediate

Would Rather – Exercise 3

An exercise with Would Rather with the same subject (present & future, past).

Complete the second sentence using Would Rather.

1 / 10

She didn’t want to take part in that meeting but she had to.

 

She ________ part in that meeting.

2 / 10

Let’s not leave today. How about staying one more day in the hotel?

 

My wife _________ one more day in the hotel than leave today.

3 / 10

Do you want to spend next holidays in the mountains or at the seaside?

 

__________ next holidays in the mountains or at the seaside?

4 / 10

He’d prefer to live in a warmer climate.

 

He ________ in a warmer climate.

5 / 10

It’s a pity I don’t have any influence on his decision.

 

I ________ some influence on his decision.

6 / 10

I think I ‘ve eaten too much.

 

I ________ so much.

7 / 10

I would like to go to sleep earlier today but my husband is insisting on watching a new serial.

 

My husband ________ a new serial than go to sleep earlier today.

8 / 10

I made a very bad decision.

 

I _________ such a bad decision.

9 / 10

Would you prefer to get married in the summer or in the autumn?

 

__________ in the summer or in the autumn?

10 / 10

I don’t feel like running. How about swimming today?

 

I ________ than run today.

 

Your score is

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Upper-Intermediate

Would Rather – Exercise 4

An exercise with Would Rather with different subjects (present & future).

Choose the correct form of the verbs to complete the sentences.

1 / 10

We’d rather you __________  anyone. Let it stay a secret.

2 / 10

I’d rather Josh _________this car. It’s not value for money.

3 / 10

I’d rather she _________ home earlier today. Grandparents are coming today.

4 / 10

My parents would rather I _________all the time. It’s impossible!

5 / 10

I would rather you ________

6 / 10

She would rather I __________ my hair long. She says this hair suits me better.

7 / 10

I’d sooner you __________ so loud.

8 / 10

Would you rather I _________ my job? Do you really think they exploit me?

9 / 10

My boss would sooner I _________ the report today. I’ll have to work overtime.

10 / 10

We’d sooner your boyfriend __________ so late.

Your score is

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Upper-Intermediate

Would Rather – Exercise 5

An exercise with Would Rather with different subjects (past).

Choose the correct form of the verbs to complete the sentences.

1 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

Alice would sooner her son _________ the party at their house.

2 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

I’d rather our guests _________ at ours so long. I was pretty exhausted.

3 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

She’d rather they _________ that loan.

4 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

Simon would rather Elizabeth _________ him before taking such a serious decision.

5 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

He’d sooner they _________ the documents before buying the house.

6 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

She’d rather I _________ at our child.

7 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

I’d rather you _________ me before.

8 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

Alice would rather her husband _________ their money without asking her.

9 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

I’d rather he _________ on that trip. I felt something bad might happen.

10 / 10

Category: Upper-Intermediate

He’d rather I _________ it earlier.

Your score is

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Upper-Intermediate

Would Rather – Exercise 6

An exercise with Would Rather with different subjects (present & future, past).

Complete the sentences using would rather.

1 / 10

How about going to a pub? (we)

I _______ to a pub.

2 / 10

They had better not snoop around this affair.

I ________ around this affair.

3 / 10

They don’t pay attention to what they eat.

I ________ attention to what they eat.

4 / 10

You should have kept track of what they were doing.

I ________ track of what they were doing.

5 / 10

Why didn’t you watch your mouth? You said by far too much.

I ________ your mouth. You said by far too much.

6 / 10

Why didn’t you tell me about your problems?

I _________ me about your problems.

7 / 10

Mike hopes the new government stands for lower taxes.

Mike _________ for lower taxes.

8 / 10

The date of the meeting doesn’t suit me.

I _________ place some other day.

9 / 10

George needn’t have brought up the subject of politics at the meeting.

We ________ up the subject of politics at the meeting.

10 / 10

She would prefer me to drive.

She ________ .

Your score is

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Upper-Intermediate

Would Rather – Exercise 7

An exercise with Would Rather with the same and different subjects (present & future, past).

Choose the correct form of the verbs to complete the sentences.

1 / 10

Margaret would rather Jim _________ the flames. Now the whole situation has got much worse.

2 / 10

I’d rather they _________ my proposal. They will soon realise what mistake they have made.

3 / 10

I’d rather you _________ in front of the TV again. Can’t you just go to bed?

4 / 10

Would you rather Jessica ________ this offer? Such a chance may never happen again.

5 / 10

We don’t have much time. We’d rather you _________ it to us succinctly.

6 / 10

I’d rather ________ these mushrooms. They look poisonous.

7 / 10

Roger would rather _________his meddling neighbours. They always ask so many questions.

8 / 10

Sean would rather _________ to that concert. He said it was a waste of time.

9 / 10

Phil would rather _________ his habits. He’s fed up with his smoking and overeating.

10 / 10

I’d sooner he ________ late today.

Your score is

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Upper-Intermediate

Would Rather – Exercise 8

An exercise with Would Rather with the same and different subjects (present & future, past).

Write the verbs in brackets in the correct form.

1 / 10

I’d rather you _________ to work. I can’t deal with everything myself. (get)

2 / 10

Alex would rather you ________ him about the microbes which can be found in coffee machines. He doesn’t feel like drinking such coffee any more. (not tell)

3 / 10

Billy would rather _________ . He admits it was stupid of him. (not smoke)

4 / 10

I’d rather ________ this grammar. There are so many much more interesting things to do. (not learn)

5 / 10

I think I should come back home. I’d rather _________ this virus. (not contract)

6 / 10

I’d rather our grandma __________ so many cakes. Who will eat all of that? (not bake)

7 / 10

We’d rather you _________ him off about our arrival. Let it be a surprise for him. (not tip)

8 / 10

They would rather the gutter press _________ her past. It was her privacy. (not reveal)

9 / 10

I would rather this pain ________. It’s unbearable. (go away)

10 / 10

I’d rather you _________ before you go to bed. That’s an unhealthy habit. (not snack)

Your score is

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Upper-Intermediate

Would Rather – Exercise 9

An exercises with Would Rather with the same and different subjects (present & future, past).

Complete the second sentence using would rather.

1 / 10

She should take decisions by herself instead of asking others.

I ________ decisions by herself instead of asking others.

2 / 10

Why do you burn the midnight oil? You’re always tired. Isn’t it better to study during the day and sleep at night?

I ________ the midnight oil. You’re always tired. Isn’t it better to study during the day and sleep at night?

3 / 10

Everybody is shocked that the war has broken out.

Everybody __________________ out.

4 / 10

I want them to understand they aren’t the linchpins here.

I _________ they aren’t the linchpins here.

5 / 10

The camping was fine but we should have chosen a hotel.

I _________ a hotel instead of the camping.

6 / 10

The prosecutor would prefer to interrogate the suspect as soon as possible.

The prosecutor __________ the suspect as soon as possible.

7 / 10

I’d prefer not to go by boat. I suffer from seasickness.

I ________ by boat. I suffer from seasickness.

8 / 10

The inheritance I got has caused me many troubles.

I _________ the inheritance since it has caused me so many problems.

9 / 10

I don’t want to wait for you.

I _________ for you.

10 / 10

You needn’t have told him off in front of his friends.

He _________ him off in front of his friends.

Your score is

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