Fire like fear, like panic, like one more minute of this and I'll die if he doesn't knock at my door, but I'd sooner he never knock than knock now. ("Call Me by Your Name")

I am aware of the idiom "I'd sooner do sth" that means "used for saying what you would prefer to do." I understand the syntactic structure of it where the main verb is "do," the adverb is "sooner," and the auxiliary verb is "would."

However, in this case, the syntactic construction I interpret is "[subject]+[auxiliary verb]+[adverb]+[ANOTHER SUBJECT] +[adverb]+[verb]," where I feel like a verb and a conjunction are missing.


I am aware of the idiom "I'd sooner do sth"

A related idiom is "I'd sooner A than B", where A and B are clauses, often in the subjunctive case, where the speaker is ordering their preferences for certain hypothetical situations (rather than certain personal actions, as in "I'd sooner do"). The meaning is "I prefer a situation where he never knocks over a situation where he knocks now."

  • but in term of syntax, how can it work to use "[subject]+[auxiliary] +[adverb]" without a verb to link connect a following clause? – HypnoticBuggyWraithVirileBevy Dec 26 '20 at 2:09
  • One possible unwritten verb is "have": "I'd sooner have a situation where he knock earlier than have a situation where he knock now." It is omitted for conciseness. – Chemomechanics Dec 26 '20 at 2:31
  • Wait, I am baffled, even the main verb can be omitted? I think a verb is one of the most important component of a sentence, as it conveys the essential meaning. – HypnoticBuggyWraithVirileBevy Dec 26 '20 at 2:34
  • Also addressed here. Consider "would" to mean "wish" rather than an auxiliary requiring another verb. – Chemomechanics Dec 26 '20 at 2:49
  • @Chemomechanics No, I think the elliptical verb is "choose". "I would choose him to never knock before I would choose him to knock now". – Acccumulation Dec 26 '20 at 6:20

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