This question already has an answer here:

I have been doing some reasearch on the proper usage of the phrase "would rather", when there is a change of subject. Most websites I have found suggest that, in that case, "would rather" must necessarily be followed by a past simple clause (a.k.a. unreal past), but some others state that "would rather" can also be followed by the subjunctive form of a verb. For example, consider the following sentences:

  • I would rather he played with Tim.
  • I would rather he play with Tim.

Which would be an example of the correct use of "would rather"?

Thanks in advance!

Edit: I have searched both in various websites and in my grammar books about this matter, and although mostly every one of them states that the use of unreal past is mandatory when the subject changes, I am trying to figure our whether the subjunctive form would also be correct. That said, I would really appreciate it if you could cite specific quotes or grammar rules along with your reply, so that I can have a well-documented answer to my question. Thanks again!

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, user66974, Barmar, tchrist Feb 4 '17 at 1:03

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.


When structured with a secondary subject, i.e. [subject] would rather [secondary subject] [predicate]. It is always correct to use past tense.

-Cambridge University Press


Therefore, of your two examples:

  • I would rather he played with Tim.

is the correct form.

  • 1
    Hello, 6EBeast. While I'm not commenting on the accuracy of what you claim, I will say that answers on ELU are expected to be backed up by supporting quotes etc. Otherwise, they seem to be indistinguishable from opinion. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 3 '17 at 20:50

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