Student or Learner
In this example could it be also used 'were' instead of 'be'(the subjunctive form)?
e.g. Would you rather I be with someone else?
For me, the 'be' version is not very natural. It suggests to me the idea that the preference would be for a hypothetical future situation; the 'were' version suggests that the preference would be for a hypothetical (counterfactual?) present situation.
*** NOT A TEACHER ***
From Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy:
An example from my favourite movie, "A Few Good Men":When you want someone else to do something, you can say I'd rather you did.../I'd rather he did..., etc. We use past in this structure, but the meaning is present or future, not past.
Colonel Jessep: I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post.
(Note, also, the subjunctive after "suggest".)
The imperative for this sentence, "Would you rather I be with someone else?" would read: I would rather you were with someone else (which seems to be perfectly correct), that's why I think that the original (interrogative) sentence is correct. (I admit it sounds strange even to me, but, being a non-native, what I think is of no importance. )
Yes, but this sentence is also fine I think:
I would rather you study this evening than go to a party.
As for counterfactuality, I've found this sentence from Chicago Sun-Times (2005):
They would rather he be around to tell stories, laugh and enjoy life.
The context tells us he's not around.
I would rather [that] you be a doctor than a baker = In the future, I hope you become a doctor, not a baker.
I would rather [that] you were a doctor than a baker = You are a baker. I wish you were a doctor.
Last edited by emsr2d2; 09-Oct-2011 at 22:57. Reason: typo and missing words