had rather

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easychen

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi, everybody!
I saw the sentence "I had much rather we not stay" in the Webster's dictionary and wondered if it was gramaticallly correct. I thought it woud be "I had much rather we hadn't stayed" or "I had much rather we didn't stay". Please help me with that.
Many thanks!
 
  • mbr

    New Member
    English - U.S.
    That sentence is grammatically correct. "Had rather" has the same meaning as "would rather". "Had rather" is just used less frequently because it's somewhat dated.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I agree with mbr that the sentence is grammatically correct. I would call "we not stay" a present subjunctive, and it is the form we speakers of American English are most likely to use in this construction.

    Speakers of British English are more likely to use the past. This difference is discussed in this thread.

    You will also find other relevant threads among the threads listed under rather in the WR dictionary.

    (Welcome to the forum, mbr.)
     

    The Slippery Slide

    Senior Member
    British English
    This is interesting. In all my years editing and proofreading (not to mention reading, speaking and listening) English, I have never noticed anyone say "had rather". I've looked it up, and it seems it is acceptable, but I would imagine it's really dated. Thanks for showing me something I didn't know.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    This is interesting. In all my years editing and proofreading (not to mention reading, speaking and listening) English, I have never noticed anyone say "had rather". I've looked it up, and it seems it is acceptable, but I would imagine it's really dated.
    There is a discussion of this very question (whether it is dated) in this thread: I had rather play than work.

    It seems to me that "had rather" is common in colloquial American English as it is spoken. Perhaps it is most often associated with rural dialects, but I am not certain.
     

    Orange Blossom

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. English
    Hi, everybody!
    I saw the sentence "I had much rather we not stay" in the Webster's dictionary and wondered if it was gramaticallly correct. I thought it woud be "I had much rather we hadn't stayed" or "I had much rather we didn't stay". Please help me with that.
    Many thanks!
    One of your options means the same as the first, but the other has a different meaning.

    1) "I had much rather we not stay" <-- I am somewhere now, and I would prefer that 'we' not remain. Essentially means, I want to leave.

    2) "I had much rather we hadn't stayed." <-- I was somewhere, we stayed, but I wish that we hadn't. In other words, I wish we had left.

    3) "I had much rather we didn't stay." <-- I am somewhere now, and I would prefer that 'we' not remain. Essentially means, I want to leave.

    All the sentences are grammatically correct.

    As for when 1 is used and 3 is used, I haven't a clue.

    Orange Blossom
     
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