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I am Korean English learner:)

This is a sentence from TOEFL.

I prefer spending time with just a few friends to hanging out with a large group since one can cultivate more profound relationships and talk about things on a more personal level.

Here in this sentence, I have interested in the usage of "prefer".

I already learned that transitive verb "prefer" has different meanings and usages.

here "prefer" used as kind of comparative function, a person prefer spending time with just a few friends "more than" hanging out with a large group.

also I looked up dictionary for sure,

prefer + object prefer + object + pp NP prefer + doing prefer + to VP (rather than)

and I am curious that if I change the sentence into

I prefer to spend time with just a few friends to hang out with a large group ~.

is a grammatical sentence.

Also if this sentence is accepted ( if this paraphrasing is accpeted,)

Is the first model sentence more acceptable than my paraphrased sentence? if so, then why..?

  • Why did you change "hanging out" to "hang out"? – user3169 May 21 '18 at 2:59
  • yes! I changed both spending and hanging – Belle May 21 '18 at 3:07
  • @user3169 I think Belle was reasoning by analogy and attempting parallel construction! A good try. Wrong, but a good try. See, this is what trying to apply logic to English gets you. – Codeswitcher May 21 '18 at 4:35
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Your reasoning is sound, but the rephrased version doesn't quite work.

When you switch to the infinitive form of the verb, you need to add would and replace the second to with rather than:

I would prefer to spend time with just a few friends rather than hang out with a large group.

The Cambridge Dictionary has some more information about using prefer.

  • Also acceptable: "I prefer to spend time with just a few friends, rather than hanging out with a large group." – 1006a May 21 '18 at 8:30
  • @1006a Oh, indeed. Once you start mixing verb forms it gets more interesting. Then there are constructions based on I would rather and I like X more, among others. – Jason Bassford May 21 '18 at 8:42
  • @Jason Bassford thank you so much! I learned a lot from your explanation:) – Belle May 22 '18 at 2:44

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