Could anyone just explain if the phrase " I’d rather you pretend I didn’t say it" is grammarically correct? I thought, it should be "pretended" instead of "pretend" there, but, anyway, I heard that variant in the BigBangTheory SO3E20. Also, If someone would like to see the full subs, they could be found here: subs.

Many thanks!

1 Answer 1


I think "I'd rather you pretend I didn't say it" is more appropriate in this context. Pretended is past tense and I don't think it is correct, although I think it is fairly common to use it in that way.

It would be correct if you are speaking of a specific time in the past, where you might say "I'd rather you had pretended I didn't say it". I think you would want to use "had" in that case but I think it is okay to leave it out.

  • Thank you for your answer) The point is that I’ve never seen the construction “would rather + somebody+ present tense” in any of the grammar books, they all suggest using past tense to talk about now and future.. Commented May 4, 2019 at 16:17
  • 1
    Yes I understand what you are saying. I think it is true that grammatically it is correct, and past tense is commonly used in hypothetical scenarios in English. I think it depends on the verb. Present tense can be okay here too, for instance "I'd rather you go with me to the store" vs "I'd rather you went with me to the store".
    – wavery
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 7:50
  • Note to self: don't trust grammar books that much. But, you know, at the same time, I think, that there might be sth american in it. Kinda like "I would hate for us to go there", etc in their common usage. And I can't remember that I've ever heard such constructions somewhere from Brits . But, anyway, thank you again) Commented May 6, 2019 at 18:06

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