Subjunctive? I would rather she ( ) tomorrow than today.

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Senior Member
Look at the question below. The book says the answer (3) but I think (1) also is correct. What do you think?

A: Mary wants to see you today.
B: I would rather she ( ) tomorrow than today.
(1) come
(2) should come
(3) came
(4) has come
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi jakartaman

    After "I would rather", I would use the past tense (more specifically the past subjunctive if it's distinguishable from the indicative):

    I'd rather you went
    You'd rather I stayed at home
    She'd rather he were home early

    So to my mind only option (3) is correct.

    Hope this helps



    Senior Member
    USA - English
    1 is certainly also correct; indeed, I have my doubts about the correctness of #3. The use of "come" in 1 is the same subjunctive use of "come" that one finds in the common expression "come what may".


    Senior Member
    English, UK
    My Sprachgefühl prefers "I would rather she came tomorrow", my feeling that it sounds right reinforced by the exigencies of the sequence of tenses. "Came" is past subjunctive here, though identical to the past simple.
    "Come" (3rd person subjunctive) I would reserve to follow a verb in the present tense, also on the grounds of sequence of tenses, viz. "I insist she come tomorrow not today"(where "come" is present subjunctive. But I admit that one does hear No. 1 too in the mouths of native speakers.


    Senior Member
    English UK
    I think Murphy's right, this is another BrE/AmE difference, although, as ever, we're not talking about absolutes.

    It's always struck me that North Americans are much more comfortable with the present subjunctive than Brits; though I think we might, little by little and in certain constructions, be learning it back from them.

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