Intermediate grammar exercise: would rather, would prefer, prefer


English grammar practice exercise for pre-intermediate / intermediate level: would rather vs. would prefer and prefer.

You can see a grammar explanation at the bottom of this page.

Exercise instructions: Choose the best answer to fill the gap in each of the following.



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Would prefer, would rather:
expressing specific preference
When we speak about a specific preference, would rather and would prefer have the same meaning and are interchangeable. We went to the theatre yesterday. Today I would rather go to the cinema.
We went to the theatre yesterday. Today I would prefer to go to the cinema.
Would rather can be abbreviated to 'd rather.
Would prefer can be abbreviated to 'd prefer.
I'd rather go to the cinema.
I'd prefer to go to the cinema.
Would rather is followed by the bare infinitive.

Would prefer is followed by to + infinitive or a noun.
I'd rather have fruit juice.
I'd prefer to have fruit juice.
I'd prefer fruit juice.
We use a past tense after would rather when we speak about the actions of other people, even though that action may be in the present or future. I'd rather you took a taxi (instead of walking) – it's not safe on the streets at night.
The film is quite violent. I'd rather our children didn't watch it.
We say:
would rather . . . than
It's such nice weather – I'd rather sit in the garden than watch TV.
We say:
would prefer . . . rather than / instead of
It's such nice weather – I'd prefer to sit in the garden rather than watch TV.


Prefer, would rather:
expressing general preference
When we talk about general preferences, we can use prefer or would rather. The meaning is the same. I prefer walking to cycling.
I would rather walk than cycle.
After prefer we use the verb in the -ing form.

After would rather we use the infinitive without to.
I prefer using a keyboard to writing with a pen.

I’d rather use a keyboard than write with a pen.

(I’d = I would)
We say: prefer . . . to . . .

We say: would rather . . . than . . .
I prefer walking to driving.

I’d rather walk than drive.