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    #1

    Question would rather question

    I have 2 multiple choices questions about ' would rather ' Are they correct ?

    1- I'd rather you ...... him the truth.

    a)tell
    b)telling
    c)told
    d)is told

    I think the answer is (C)


    2- I'd rather you ....... on an earlier train.

    a)leave
    b)left
    c)will leave
    d)would leave
    e)are leaving

    My answer is (B)


    My both answers are in simple past tense. If they are okay, do we use simple past tense all the time for these kind of questions ? Thank you

  1. nyota's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: would rather question

    Would rather expresses a wish that is unfulfilled in the present. It can be also used to express wishes for the future that may or may not be fulfilled. SO, you use this structure with the past (told and left as you said), but the meaning is present or future.

    I read it's less common, but if you want to express a wish unfulfilled in the past, you use past perfect:

    I would rather she had gone to London last week.

    Would rather (do something) can also express a preference, and then it goes with the infinitive without to:

    I'd rather go by car. (= I'd prefer to go by car.)
    Would you rather have tea or coffee?
    I'm tired, I'd rather not go out this evening.


    Compare:

    I'd rather cook the dinner now.
    I'd rather you cooked the dinner now.

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    #3

    Re: would rather question

    Quote Originally Posted by nyota View Post
    Would rather expresses a wish that is unfulfilled in the present. It can be also used to express wishes for the future that may or may not be fulfilled. SO, you use this structure with the past (told and left as you said), but the meaning is present or future.

    I read it's less common, but if you want to express a wish unfulfilled in the past, you use past perfect:

    I would rather she had gone to London last week.

    Would rather (do something) can also express a preference, and then it goes with the infinitive without to:

    I'd rather go by car. (= I'd prefer to go by car.)
    Would you rather have tea or coffee?
    I'm tired, I'd rather not go out this evening.


    Compare:

    I'd rather cook the dinner now.
    I'd rather you cooked the dinner now.
    So basically,

    Would rather + past tense MEANS simple present
    Would rather + simple present MEANS simple future
    Would rather + past perfect MEANS past tense

    ?

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    #4

    Re: would rather question

    I am not a teacher. This is the answer of an American who uses the subjunctive.

    Your answers are right, but 1a and 2a are also right. Your answers are not the simple past, they are past subjunctive, which just happens to have the same form as the simple past. Answers 1a and 2a use the present subjunctive. There is a subtle difference in meaning. Taking the first sentence, "I'd rather you ___ him the truth", "tell" is more like a command, whereas "told" is more of a preference.

  2. nyota's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: would rather question

    Not exactly. Past tense cannot mean simple present tense. An apple doesn't mean an orange. I think you were trying to say that you use past tense to express the present or the future (as notions).

    1/ would rather + person + past tense (present or future meaning)
    2/ would rather + person + past perfect (unfulfilled wish in the past)
    3/ would rather + infinitive without to (simply expresses what you prefer)

    1/ I'd rather you told him the truth. (It's my wish for now or the future)
    2/ I'd rather you had told him the truth last night. (But you didn't tell him - unfulfilled wish in the past)
    3/ I'd rather stay at home tonight (than go to the cinema).

  3. nyota's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: would rather question

    I thought that the past subjunctive exists only in were in all persons (I were, we were, he were etc.) ?

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    #7

    Re: would rather question

    Quote Originally Posted by nyota View Post
    I thought that the past subjunctive exists only in were in all persons (I were, we were, he were etc.) ?
    The past subjunctive can be recognised only in the verb BE.

    With all other verbs, the subjunctive and indicative forms are the same.

    This is why some of us believe that there is little point in talking about the subjunctive at all, but that's a different issue.

  5. nyota's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: would rather question

    I wouldn't like to start another subjunctive discussion, but if the forms are the same with other verbs, then how can you tell it's one, not the other?

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    #9

    Re: would rather question

    Quote Originally Posted by nyota View Post
    I wouldn't like to start another subjunctive discussion, but if the forms are the same with other verbs, then how can you tell it's one, not the other?
    By understanding fully how and when the subjunctive is used!

    The simple answer (if you know when to use were) is to substitute was/were for the verb used. If you use were, then the verb it replaced is subjunctive.

    If you arrived late tomorrow, I'd be angry.
    If you were late tomorrow, I'd be angry.
    So, arrived is subjunctive.

    When I was a child, I would often hide under the bed if I heard thunder.
    When I was a child I would often hide under the bed if I was frightened by something
    . So, heard is not subjunctive.

    If any learners are reading this, do not worry about it. Most native speakers have no idea what the subjunctive is. As the past indicative form of all verbs except BE is the same as the past subjunctive form, it really does not matter. Even with BE, many speakers do not use the subjunctive form. I have posted this simply because nyota asked the question.

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    #10

    Re: would rather question

    Quote Originally Posted by nyota View Post
    I wouldn't like to start another subjunctive discussion, but if the forms are the same with other verbs, then how can you tell it's one, not the other?
    We can tell them apart because subjunctive is not just a matter of form. Mainly it's a matter of content.

    "I wish I had a car."

    How can we justify "had" here without the concept of subjunctive. Ofcourse we can teach it but we can not justify it.

    This was/were test for subjunctive is interesting.
    Last edited by Khosro; 24-Feb-2011 at 15:28.

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