“Prefer” / “Would rather”

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Welcome to your “Prefer” / “Would Rather” lesson! In this topic we talk about:
• “Prefer to do” and “Prefer doing”
“Would prefer”
“Would rather”
“Would rather you did something”
Take the quizzes when you’re ready! If you’re having problems, use the comment box to contact our English Teachers.

“Prefer to do” and “Prefer doing”

You can use “prefer to do” or “prefer doing” to say what you prefer in general:

“I don’t like chicken, I prefer to eat beef.”

Have a look at the different structures after “prefer”:

“I prefer rock music to pop music.”

“I prefer listening to music to swimming.”

“I prefer to listen to music rather than swim.”

You can also leave out the verb if you mean to repeat it:

“She prefers to listen to rock rather than jazz.”
(“She prefers to listen to rock rather than listen to jazz.”)

“Would prefer”

We use “would prefer” to say what someone would like in a specific situation, not in general:

Would you prefer a beer or some rum?”

We say “would prefer to do something” not “would prefer doing something”:

“Shall we go by bus?” “I’d prefer to walk.”
(not “I’d prefer walking“)

“I’d prefer to go out tonight rather than stay in.”

“Would rather”

“Would rather do” means “would prefer to do”. We use rather without to:

“Shall we go by bus?”
“I’d prefer to drive.” or “I’d rather drive.”

The negative form is “I’d rather not do something”:

“I’m not hungry, I‘d rather not eat tonight, thank you.”

“Would you like to go out tonight?” “No, I‘d rather not.”

We say “would rather do something than do something else”:

“I‘d rather eat at home tonight than go to the restaurant.”

“Would rather you did something”

We say “I’d rather you did something” not “I’d rather you do something”:

“Shall I stay at home?” “No, I‘d rather you came with us.”

“I’ll make the rice later.” “Well, I‘d rather you made it now.”

“Shall I tell them, or would you rather they didn’t know?”

We use the verb in the past, but the meaning is present. Compare these two sentences:

I’d rather make the rice now.”

I’d rather you made the rice now.”
(not “I’d rather you make the rice now.”)

“I’d rather you didn’t do something” means “I’d prefer you not to do something”:

I’d rather you didn’t tell tell anyone what happened.”

“Shall I tell her?” “No, I’d rather you didn’t.”

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