Would Rather vs Would Prefer


Would Rather vs Would Prefer

They both express preference. Though they have similar meanings, they are used in different ways.

Also See:

Would Rather / Had Better
Used To vs Would
Would You Mind
Would Like To
Look at the rules and examples below to understand the different usages of each.

Would Rather


When the person himself expresses a preference on something referring to the present or future:

Subject + would rather ('d rather) + base form of verb
I would rather (I'd rather) stay at home than go out right now.


When referring to the past:

Subject + would rather ('d rather) + have + past participle form of verb
I would rather (I'd rather) have stayed at home than (have) gone out last nigh.


When the person expresses a preference on someone else's actions referring to the present or future:

Subject + would rather ('d rather) + object + past tense
I would rather (I'd rather) you gave up smoking.


When referring to the past:

Subject + would rather ('d rather) + object + past perfect
I would rather (I'd rather) you hadn't lied to me about your school marks yesterday.


Would Prefer


When the person himself expresses a preference on something referring to the present or future:

Subject + would prefer + to infinitive + verb
I would prefer ('d prefer) to watch TV rather than (to) do shopping.


When referring to the past:

Subject + would prefer ('d prefer) to + have + past participle form of a verb
I would prefer (I'd prefer) to have been born somewhere else.


When the person expresses a preference on someone else's actions referring to the present or future:

Subject + would prefer ('d prefer) + object + to infinitive + verb
I would prefer ('d prefer) my son to live with me rather than (to) live abroad.


When referring to the past:

Subject + would prefer ('d prefer) + object + to + have + past participle form of a verb
I would prefer your daughter to have accepted my apology rather than (to have) ignored me last night.
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