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  1. Do you want to take the bus or would you rather ______ the bus?
    (Choose TWO correct answers)

    • a. to take
    • b. take ✔
    • c. we take ✘
    • d. we took ✔

I found this in an online test here.

● What is the difference between these two sentences?

  1. Do you want to take the bus or would you rather we took the bus?

  2. Do you want to take the bus or would you rather take the bus?

● Are their meanings different?

● & I know why d is correct (because we use would rather+subject+past simple to refer to the present or future), but what about the option b. Why is this option correct?

  • b. is grammatically correct according to past simple tense. – holydragon Aug 20 '18 at 9:21
  • @holydragon Yes it is clear, sir. But I asked for their difference & I think "b. is grammatically correct according to past simple tense." does not sound very compelling. – AmirhoseinRiazi Aug 20 '18 at 9:56
  • well that is a bad test, the language is unnatural, and in 1 question 2 answers were correct but required more context (about the essay question). – WendyG Aug 20 '18 at 11:51
  • @WendyG Agreed! – AmirhoseinRiazi Aug 20 '18 at 17:05
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First of all I'd like to point out that "take the bus or take the bus" doesn't make sense, since you're presenting the same option twice. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that the sentence is more likely to be "train or bus" or "taxi or bus". I'm going to assume train vs bus in this answer.


  1. Do you want to take the train or would you rather we took the bus?

  2. Do you want to take the train or would you rather take the bus?

The difference between these two sentences is context. The first sentence will only make sense if both the asker and the audience are travelling together. "we take" implies that you are travelling with the person to whom you are speaking.

The second sentence can be used both in the context of travelling together and travelling alone. If you are talking to someone who is about to travel somewhere, you might ask them how they are getting to their destination: "Do you want to take the train or would you rather take the bus?". This would imply that you are somewhat involved in the journey, but not actually travelling due to the "Do you want" part. For example, if you were buying train/bus tickets for someone else to travel, you might ask them "Do you want to take the train or would you rather take the bus?".

In the context of travelling together, you might ask this to your companion so that they will decide what form of transport you both will be taking. In this case, the two sentences have the same meaning.

  • "take the bus or take the bus" This problem was caused by that site. – AmirhoseinRiazi Aug 20 '18 at 11:27
  • @AmirhoseinRiazi that's alright! I thought I'd change the first one to train so that I didn't confuse myself and/or other people – Aric Aug 20 '18 at 11:29
  • But this question Aric ( I think ) does make sense. "Do you want to take the bus or would you rather we took the bus?" I wonder if it means: Do you pay the money or do we have to pay the money? – AmirhoseinRiazi Aug 20 '18 at 11:35
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    @AmirhoseinRiazi That sentence doesn't make sense. If both are meant to say "bus", then it would mean "do you want to take the bus alone or together", but then you'd just say Do you want me to come with you?. The actual sentence "Do you want to take the bus, or would you rather we took the bus" doesn't make sence by itself. Hence why I think that the first "bus" is incorrect. The question doesn't have anything to do with who is paying in this context – Aric Aug 20 '18 at 11:40
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Historically rather licensed use of the subjunctive which is still used by some speakers:

I would rather you be frank and not so circumspect.

In contemporary English we more often find a backshift that marks the clause as one not declaring a fact but as stating a preference.

I would rather you were frank.

Would you rather we took the bus?

Some speakers would not backshift there:

Would you rather we take the bus?

And would rather can also be complemented by a clause headed by the unmarked infinitive:

Would you rather take the bus?

With prefer, the infinitive is marked:

Would you prefer to take the bus?

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