What would be the correct structure for "would rather...than..." in past aspect?

1.) would rather have v3 than v3
ex. He would rather have gone out than stayed.

2.) would rather have v3 than vinf
ex. He would rather have gone out than stay.

I have tried to find some references but none exactly match the case.
For example, from the Cambridge website:

When we want to refer to the past we use would rather + have + -ed form (perfect infinitive without to):

She would rather have spent the money on a holiday. (The money wasn’t spent on a holiday.)

I’d rather have seen it at the cinema than on DVD. (I saw the film on DVD.)

  • I edited your question to use a text quotation rather than a picture. (Pictures are difficult for some people view—and impossible for anybody with a screen reader—and should normally only be used for additional clarification.) Anything important to a question should be provided in text. Sep 2, 2018 at 17:48
  • 1
    Excuse my ignorance, do the v3s mean anything significant? Sep 2, 2018 at 19:58
  • 2
    @marcellothearcane: V3 seems to mean the Past participle (been, done, walked etc). It's one of the terms I have learnt on this site, I assume because it's used in teaching ESL, even though it is unknown to most English speakers.
    – Colin Fine
    Sep 2, 2018 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


You first example (would rather have gone out than stayed) is the more normal. It maintains the parallelism, so that both sides of the comparison are in the same tense

If you use the infinitive stay, then what you are comparing is the past infinitive have gone out with a present infinitive stay. There's nothing ungrammatical about that, but it's rather unusual. I can think of some cases where it is more likely, for example:

He'd rather have gone out than be here to face his aunt now!

which means something like he wishes he had gone out .... (The reason I think this is more likely is that be here is something he is doing right now. One of the meanings of stay is the continuing state, including right now; but in contrasting it with go out, it is more natural to interpret it as his decision to stay, which presumably happened in the past.

  • Thanks, Your advice is very clear and reasonable in the real world. really appreciated !!! Sep 3, 2018 at 16:57
  • However; what do you think is the best choice for this exam? "James didn't go out last night" "But he said he’d rather have gone out ………….. home.” a) to having stayed b) than stay c) rather than have stayed d)than have stayed i believe "d) than have stayed" is the best option for two reasons. Firstly, it maintains the parallelism structure (even without "have" omission). Secondly, It use past tense "he said" imply that it should be something he also did in the past so "than stay" seem not right. But book said "than stay" is the correct choice. Sep 3, 2018 at 16:58
  • I woud say "than stayed home", parallelling "gone out". (Actually I would say "than stayed at home", but that's a different issue).
    – Colin Fine
    Sep 3, 2018 at 17:08

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .