Would rather, would prefer, prefer
Here are the rules for using would rather, would prefer and prefer correctly. The first table looks at how we can express specific preference; the second shows us how to express general preference.
|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.
would rather . . . than
|It's such nice weather – I'd rather sit in the garden than watch TV.|
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.