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  1. #1
    tianhang is offline Member
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    Default Can we say prefer to do sth than do sth

    Hi, dear teachers. I am here again, because I need your help.
    I perfer to communicate by e-mail than by phone.
    The common structure is prefer to do sth rather than do sth. Can rather be ommitted in this structure? Is the upper sentence right?
    Thank you very very very much!

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Can we say prefer to do sth than do sth

    Quote Originally Posted by tianhang View Post
    Hi, dear teachers. I am here again, because I need your help.
    I perfer to communicate by e-mail than by phone.
    The common structure is prefer to do sth rather than do sth. Can rather be ommitted in this structure? Is the upper sentence right?
    Thank you very very very much!
    I think it sounds much more natural without "rather".

    I prefer to swim than drive.
    I prefer to eat than drink.
    He prefers to write letters than send emails.

    I choose to swim rather than drive.

    If I were to use "rather", then I would use it in place of "prefer".

    I would rather swim than drive.
    I would rather eat than drink.
    He would rather write a letter than send an email.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 23-Oct-2011 at 17:10. Reason: typo

  3. #3
    TheParser is online now VIP Member
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    Default Re: Can we say prefer to do sth than do sth

    [QUOTE=tianhang;814644]
    I perfer to communicate by e-mail than by phone.
    The common structure is prefer to do sth rather than do sth. Can rather be ommitted in this structure? Is the upper sentence right?


    ONLY A NON-TEACHER'S OPINION


    (1) The teacher has given us an excellent answer.

    (2) Here are some opinions from experts (not from me):

    (a) "He preferred to take the train rather than to fly./ He preferred to take the train
    rather than a plane. (Experts: Wilma and David Ebbitt in the sixth edition of Perrin's Index to English.)

    (b) You want to know whether "rather" can be omitted. Here is one expert's opinion: "Plain [only] than seems to have no defenders and to be rarely used." (Expert: Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, 1989.)

    (c) We can say "I prefer to wait and see rather than jump to conclusions" or "I prefer to wait and see instead of jumping to conclusions." (Expert: Wilson Follett in his Modern American Usage, 1980.)

    (d) You can say "I prefer to watch baseball rather than to watch movies" or "I prefer watching baseball to watching movies." (Expert: Theodore M. Bernstein in his Dos, Don'ts & Maybes of English Usage, 1977.)

    (e) "I should prefer to start early rather than have to travel in crowded trains."
    "Than must not be used without rather after prefer." (Expert: A.S. Hornby in A Guide to Patterns and Usage in English, 1966.)

  4. #4
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can we say prefer to do sth than do sth

    "Than must not be used without rather after prefer." (Expert: A.S. Hornby in A Guide to Patterns and Usage in English, 1966.)"

    Wow, so basically everything I said is contradictory to this 1966 rule. Who knew?!

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can we say prefer to do sth than do sth

    Well, actually he wrote the rule in 1954, so it's now 57 years old.

    I don't like 'prefer ... (rather) than ...'; I use gerunds:

    I prefer swimming to driving.
    I prefer eating to drinking.
    He prefers writing ... to sending ...

    I prefer starting early to having to travel in crowded trains.

  6. #6
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can we say prefer to do sth than do sth

    Mind you, he also started his sentence with "I should prefer ..." not just "I prefer ..."

    The "I should prefer ..." construction to me sounds like it's from a Jane Austen novel.

    "I should prefer, Mr Darcy, that you not swim in my fountain at all, rather than do so and exit with such an appearance that it causes my heart to flutter."

  7. #7
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Can we say prefer to do sth than do sth

    A few speakers of Br Eng still say 'I should <verb>', especially in the context of hazarding an opinion: 'I should think/say/guess...', and in idiomatic expressions such 'I should think so too' (which is not a guess about the future, but agreement with some behaviour: 'Nick came to the funeral.'/'I should think so too, she was his mother after all') and 'I should be so lucky'. But otherwise 'I should <verb> is going the way of the dinosaur - though some of us have more saurian tendencies than others.

    b

  8. #8
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can we say prefer to do sth than do sth

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    A few speakers of Br Eng still say 'I should <verb>', especially in the context of hazarding an opinion: 'I should think/say/guess...', and in idiomatic expressions such 'I should think so too' (which is not a guess about the future, but agreement with some behaviour: 'Nick came to the funeral.'/'I should think so too, she was his mother after all') and 'I should be so lucky'. But otherwise 'I should <verb> is going the way of the dinosaur - though some of us have more saurian tendencies than others.

    b
    I certainly still use "I should think so too" - probably too often! My grandfather always used "I should say ..." whereas I'm more used to "I would say that ..."

  9. #9
    tianhang is offline Member
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    Default Re: Can we say prefer to do sth than do sth

    A wold of thanks to all of you, my dear teachers. You are great, though we are strangers.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Can we say prefer to do sth than do sth

    Quote Originally Posted by tianhang View Post
    You are great, though we are strangers.
    Well, English unites us (except for Limeys and Yanks, when it sometimes unties us.)

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