WOULD RATHER /WOULD PREFER
You can use "prefer to (do)" or "prefer -ing" to say what you prefer in general:
• I don't like cities. I prefer to live in the country OR I prefer living in the country.
Study the differences in structure after prefer. We say:
- I prefer something to something else.
- I prefer to do something rather than (do) something else.
- I prefer doing something to doing something else.
- I prefer this coat to the coat you were wearing yesterday.
- I prefer driving to traveling by train.
- but I prefer to drive rather than travel by train.
- Ann prefers to live in the country rather than (live) in a city.
Would prefer (I'd prefer...)
We use "would prefer" to say what somebody wants in a particular situation (not in general):
• "Would you prefer tea or coffee" "Coffee, please."
We say "would prefer to do" (not "doing"):
- "Shall we go by train?" "Well, I'd prefer to go by car. (not "I'd prefer going")
- I'd prefer to stay at home tonight rather than go to the cinema.
Would rather (I'd rather...)
Would rather (do) = would prefer (to do). After would rather we use the infinitive without to.
- "Shall we go by train?" "I'd prefer to go by car."
- "I'd rather go by car. (not to go)
- "Would you rather have tea or coffee" "Coffee, please."
The negative is "I'd rather not (do something)":
- I'm tired. I'd rather not go out this evening, if you don't mind.
- "Do you want to go out this evening" "I'd rather not."
Study the structure after would rather:
- I'd rather do something than (do) something else.
- I'd rather stay at home tonight than go to the cinema.
- I'd rather you did something
When you want somebody to do something, you can say "I'd rather you did something":
- "Shall I stay here?" "I'd rather you came with us."
- "Shall I tell them the news?" "No. I'd rather they didn't know."
- "Shall I tell them or would you rather they didn't know?"
In this structure we use the past (came, did etc.), but the meaning is present or future, not past.
- I'd rather cook the dinner now.
- but I'd rather you cooked the dinner now. (not "I'd rather you cook")
The negative is "I'd rather you didn't...":
- I'd rather you didn't tell anyone what I said.
- "Do you mind if I smoke?" "I'd rather you didn't."