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    #1

    I'd rather..

    I understand the expression 'I'd rather' is followed by the infinitive if the subject is the same : 'I'd rather stay at home tonight.'
    If, however, the subject of the verb following the expression is different, the Past Simple must be used. 'I'd rather you stayed at home'.
    A couple of days ago, however, I came across this sentence in a book:
    'I'd rather it be them'. Personally I would have used 'I'd rather it were/was them.'
    Is the use of the present subjunctive in the above sentence an alternative or do you recommend using the Past Simple anyway?
    Thanks.

    P.S. The book I mentioned is SAVING ALICE by David Lewis.

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: I'd rather..

    Quote Originally Posted by wace View Post
    I understand the expression 'I'd rather' is followed by the infinitive if the subject is the same : 'I'd rather stay at home tonight.'
    If, however, the subject of the verb following the expression is different, the Past Simple must be used. 'I'd rather you stayed at home'.
    A couple of days ago, however, I came across this sentence in a book:
    'I'd rather it be them'. Personally I would have used 'I'd rather it were/was them.'
    Is the use of the present subjunctive in the above sentence an alternative or do you recommend using the Past Simple anyway?
    Thanks.

    P.S. The book I mentioned is SAVING ALICE by David Lewis.
    I don't know this author, or this book. Can you give a bit more of the context?

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    #3

    Re: I'd rather..

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    I don't know this author, or this book. Can you give a bit more of the context?
    Ok Bhai.. here's the bit preceding the sentence:

    ...Although I resembled my father, I'd acquired my mother's reasonable nose. She did, however, have giant feet for her size. For years I'd monitor my nose carefully every morning, going so far as to measure its length to settle my fears. Sometimes I measured my feet too, relieved when they seemed to be growing. If something had to stick out, I'd rather it be them.'

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: I'd rather..

    Quote Originally Posted by wace View Post
    Ok Bhai.. here's the bit preceding the sentence:

    ...Although I resembled my father, I'd acquired my mother's reasonable nose. She did, however, have giant feet for her size. For years I'd monitor my nose carefully every morning, going so far as to measure its length to settle my fears. Sometimes I measured my feet too, relieved when they seemed to be growing. If something had to stick out, I'd rather it be them.'
    I think that in the context of the narrative it sounds fine.

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    #5

    Re: I'd rather..

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    I think that in the context of the narrative it sounds fine.
    Well, I'm sure it does, Bhai... No English-speaking author would ever use an awkward-sounding turn of phrase, would they? My question was (and still is): would the Past Simple have sounded just as fine?
    I'd rather it was/were them
    In all of my reference books no mention is made of the present subjunctive with the expression I'd rather... hence my question.
    Thank you.

  3. BobK's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: I'd rather..

    Quote Originally Posted by wace View Post
    Well, I'm sure it does, Bhai... No English-speaking author would ever use an awkward-sounding turn of phrase, would they? My question was (and still is): would the Past Simple have sounded just as fine?
    I'd rather it was/were them
    In all of my reference books no mention is made of the present subjunctive with the expression I'd rather... hence my question.
    Thank you.
    That surprises me. It's perfectly normal, and preferred in some parts of the world. I wouldn't use 'be' there, but I know a lot of people who would.

    To emphasize, if appropriate, that I was referring to a hypothetical event, I might also say 'I'd rather that they should be the ones to ...'.

    b

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    #7

    Re: I'd rather..

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    That surprises me. It's perfectly normal, and preferred in some parts of the world. I wouldn't use 'be' there, but I know a lot of people who would.

    To emphasize, if appropriate, that I was referring to a hypothetical event, I might also say 'I'd rather that they should be the ones to ...'.

    b
    ... And I am surprised I haven't been able to find one single example containing the present subjunctive in any of the reference books I have including Martin Hewings' Advanced Grammar in Use (Cambridge University Press)
    Quote:
    In unreal conditional sentences we can use were, including first and third person subjects [...] After would rather and would sooner when we talk about preferences:
    - I feel embarrassed about what happened and would rather the event were forgotten.

    - 'I've arranged a meeting for the end of July'. 'I'd sooner it were earlier'.

    Unquote.

    Again, no mention of the present subjunctive option. Would 'be' have been all right in the two sentences above?

    Thank you!

  4. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: I'd rather..

    Quote Originally Posted by wace View Post
    ... And I am surprised I haven't been able to find one single example containing the present subjunctive in any of the reference books I have including Martin Hewings' Advanced Grammar in Use (Cambridge University Press)
    Quote:
    In unreal conditional sentences we can use were, including first and third person subjects [...] After would rather and would sooner when we talk about preferences:
    - I feel embarrassed about what happened and would rather the event were forgotten.

    - 'I've arranged a meeting for the end of July'. 'I'd sooner it were earlier'.

    Unquote.

    Again, no mention of the present subjunctive option. Would 'be' have been all right in the two sentences above?

    Thank you!
    It certainly looks alright in the first example, for some reason I like it less in the second, but I'm sure both would be used.

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    #9

    Re: I'd rather..

    [QUOTE=wace;636848]I understand the expression 'I'd rather' is followed by the infinitive if the subject is the same : 'I'd rather stay at home tonight.'
    If, however, the subject of the verb following the expression is different, the Past Simple must be used. 'I'd rather you stayed at home'.
    A couple of days ago, however, I came across this sentence in a book:
    'I'd rather it be them'. Personally I would have used 'I'd rather it were/was them.'
    Is the use of the present subjunctive in the above sentence an alternative or do you recommend using the Past Simple anyway?
    Thanks.

    P.S. The book I mentioned is SAVING ALICE by David Lewis.

    ********** NOT a teacher **********

    Hello.

    (1) May I add my two cents?

    (2) After surfing the Web and checking my books, I have reached

    some conclusions:

    (a) You are correct: most books suggest the past subjunctive (were)

    or past indicative (was) after would rather.

    (b) The present subjunctive is definitely not "wrong," though.

    (i) One gentleman who identifies himself as the co-founder of an

    English advice website assured one learner that all three are

    "correct":

    I would rather she be here. (present subjunctive)

    I would rather she were here. (past subjunctive)

    I would rather she was here. (My note: similar to people

    who say I wish I was handsome instead of I wish I were handsome.)

    (c) It is helpful to remember that I would rather = I prefer to.

    (i) As some books remind us, prefer in American English definitely

    uses the present subjunctive:

    He prefers that the shoes be ready. (An example from the third edition of

    Mr. Fowler's revered Modern English Usage.)

    (d) A possible conclusion: Contrary to what many grammar books say,

    the present subjunctive is possible after would rather, but it is probably

    correct to conclude that it is a little too elegant for today's ordinary

    English.

    THANK YOU

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    #10

    Re: I'd rather..

    Brilliant!!!!!!! Thank you very much, The Parser.
    Your enlightening explanation has finally shed some light on a grammar point I've been puzzling over for days.
    Some fellow native teachers of yours sometimes lack the patience to delve into a topic the way you did. However, my thanks go to all those who have contributed to this thread with their valued opinion.

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