Rather than and would rather

Rather than

Rather than shows preference. It is used to say that one thing is preferred to another. This structure is mainly used in parallel structures: for example with two adjectives, two adverbs, two nouns, infinitives, or –ing forms.

When the main verb has a to-infinitive, rather than can be followed by an infinitive without to. An –ing form is also possible.

  • I decided to take the bus rather than (to) hire a taxi. OR I decided to take the bus rather than hiring a taxi.
  • They would die rather than surrender.
  • She would starve rather than beg.
  • I prefer to work in the morning rather than in the evening.

This structure is also used to suggest that one thing happens instead of another.

  • She chose to quit rather than admit that she was wrong. (OR She chose to quit rather than admitting that she was wrong.)
  • It is more important to create new jobs rather than increase / increasing wages.

An –ing form is preferred when rather than comes at the beginning of the sentence.

  • Rather than increasing the wages, why doesn’t the government create more jobs? (OR Rather than increase the wages, why doesn’t the government create more jobs?)
  • Rather than admitting his mistake, he chose to put the blame on his subordinates. (OR Rather than admit his mistake, he chose to put the blame on his subordinates.)

Would rather

Would rather means ‘would prefer to’. It is followed by an infinitive without to.

  • ‘Would you like something to drink?’ ‘I would rather have something to eat.’ (= I would prefer to have something to eat.)
  • ‘How about going to the movies?’ ‘I would rather read a book.’

We can use would rather to say that we would like another person to do something. To express this idea we use a special structure with a past tense.

  • I would rather you went home now. (= I would like you to go home now.)
  • I would rather you admitted your mistake. (= I would like you to admit your mistake.)
  • ‘Shall I put the heating on?’ ‘I would rather you didn’t.’ (= I don’t want you to put the heating on.)

To say that you didn’t want someone to do something in the past, you can use would rather with a past perfect tense.

  • I would rather you hadn’t come yesterday. (= I wish you hadn’t come yesterday.)
  • I would rather you hadn’t eaten those chocolates.

Compare:

  • I would rather you didn’t decline that offer. (= I don’t want you to decline that offer.)
  • I would rather you hadn’t declined that offer. (You declined that offer but I wish you hadn’t.)
  • I would rather she didn’t break up with her boyfriend. (= I don’t want her to break up with her boyfriend.)
  • I would rather she hadn’t broken up with her boyfriend. (= She broke up with her boyfriend, but I wish she hadn’t.)

Related posts:

  1. How to use tenses correctly in your IELTS essays and letters?
  2. Verbs complementation: what can follow a verb?
  3. IELTS Writing: Report 2

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