0

I know the right structure is "would rather do something than do something," but when would rather is followed by a clause, what is the correct grammar? Should there be a "to" before the verb in the following sentence?

I would rather that you wash it yourself than (to) see mom do it for you.

  • By the way, it should be "you washed". – onurcanbkts Jul 31 '16 at 11:56
  • I think you have not got many answers and you got down-voted because... you used the word "right"! Native speakers of English seem to hate the idea of differentiating between a "right" and a "wrong" way of saying things! – user58319 Dec 8 '19 at 19:18
1

I would not use "to". It is not incorrect, the verb "to see" can be used in this context, but it splices the sentence and from a subjective perspective, makes the sentence rather clunky, especially if "that" is also used. Examples of everyday use:

I would rather see you wash it yourself than see your mum do it for you.

I would rather that you washed it yourself than see your mum wash it for you.

I'd prefer if you washed it yourself than if you asked your mum to wash it for you.

In order to make the "to" work, break up with a comma splice:

I'd rather that you washed it yourself than see your mum wash it for you.

| improve this answer | |
  • I agree with your first 3 examples, but your last sentence is not grammatical with "to": you wouldn't say "I'd rather to see ..." - the comma makes no difference to the grammar! – TrevorD Dec 28 '16 at 13:40
  • 1
    Originally: "I'd rather that you washed it yourself than see your mum wash it for you." Erk, quite right, edited :) – Bella Pines Jan 5 '17 at 21:30
0

I would rather you washed it yourself than (you) let your mother do it.

I would rather he washed it himself than (he) let his mother do it.

is a sentence about a hypothetical situation: the reality is you let/he lets your/his mother wash it, and I wish you/he would not act like this.

That is why it contains the auxiliary "will", meaning – here – something like "be happy to see something happening", in the CONDITIONAL SIMPLE, and the verbs "wash" and "let" in the PAST SIMPLE SUBJUNCTIVE, as in Italian!

The past simple in the subjunctive mood cannot be differentiated from the past simple in the indicative mood, except for the verb "to be", which is "were" for all persons: If I were you, etc. ; If he were me, etc.

Your sentence contains an implied if-clause belonging to the second conditional (unreal present) structure:

conditional simple + if + past simple (subjunctive).

So, if I rephrase your sentence,

I would be happier if you/he washed it yourself than (if you/he) let your mother do it.

I would be happier to see you/him washing it yourself/himself than (you/him) letting your mother do it.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.