I’d prefer – I’d rather


I’d prefer and I’d rather have very similar meanings and are used to express preference. Though they have a similar meaning but they are both used in different ways.
Let’s take a look at how we can use would prefer in a sentence:
When we are talking about a specific preference would rather goes before a noun or an infinitive.

  • I would prefer coffee.
  • We would prefer live music.
  • You would prefer to watch a movie.
  • They would prefer to go to the beach.

When we are talking about a general preference would prefer goes before the gerund form.

  • I would prefer driving a car to riding a bike.
  • We would prefer washing the dishes to ironing the clothes.

Notice how we use to to compare one general choice over another. When we want to compare a specific choice over another we use would prefer…instead of.

  • I would prefer to ski instead of skateboard.
  • You would prefer chocolate instead of fruit.

Now let’s look at would rather. When we want to talk a specific or general preference would rather goes before the bare infinitive.

  • I’d rather take English lessons.
  • They’d rather study in the evening.
  • We’d rather not go to the concert.
  • You’d rather play video games all day.

If you want to compare  preferences you can use the structure would rather…than. For example:

  • I’d rather than English lesson than Spanish lessons.
  • They’d rather study in the evening than study in the morning.
  • We’d rather play video games all day than go to school.
  • I’d rather drive than walk.

We can use would rather to talk about another persons actions. To do this we use the past tense after would rather, even if we are talking about a present or future situation.

  • I’d rather you came home for dinner.
  • We’d rather she played piano than the drums.
  • The parents would rather the children watched less television.
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