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Suppose I have this sentence:

I'd rather stay at home tonight than go to the cinema.

Can I say this:

I'd rather staying at home tonight than going to the cinema.

If not, why? Do we always use I'd rather+do form? Is there a special condition we're allowed to use gerunds?

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Grammatically the word "rather" doesn't change the fact that this is an "I would do ...." structure. And after the modal verb "would", the basic form or bare infinitive is used, and not a gerund/participle.

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  • Now you are doing what you often criticise me for doing. Ignoring the Tense in the example used by the Poster/Postee. Would you not agree that "I would rather be staying at home to night" is acceptable English?
    – Brad
    Jun 7 '21 at 23:54
  • "I would rather be staying at home tonight" is acceptable but it is not deviating from what James said in his answer. The model idiom would rather takes a bare infinitive clause as its complement - be staying at home tonight - in your sentence. Jun 8 '21 at 5:01
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A Gerund is a word ending in "-ing" that is made from a verb and used like a noun, however the -ing suffix** is used to form the present participle of regular verbs. Try to remember these two situations.


I'd rather staying at home tonight than going to the cinema.

This does not sound correct. However with a slight addition we have a more comfortable sounding sentence.

I'd rather be staying at home tonight than going to the cinema.

You use be with a present participle to form the continuous tenses of verbs.

present participle: noun: a form of a verb that in English ends in -ing and comes after another verb to show continuous action. It is used to form the present continuous: Ref C.E.D.

take some other examples

I would rather walk than ride on the bus; I would rather be walking than riding on the bus.


Hence we are not using "I'd rather+do (& Gerunds)" we are using a progressive tense; I'd rather+be+present participle


-ing suffix; used to form the present participle of regular verbs: Ref C.E.D.

gerund; noun [ C ] LANGUAGE specialized; a word ending in "-ing" that is made from a verb and used like a noun: RefC.E.D.

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  • So what conclusion did you draw to OP's "Can we use gerunds after would rather?"? Jun 8 '21 at 5:03
  • no we use the continuous tenses
    – Brad
    Jun 8 '21 at 5:13
  • As far as I know the participle form of walk is walked but not walking. Jun 8 '21 at 5:31
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    That's why you need the ELL. ef.com/wwen/english-resources/english-grammar/…
    – Brad
    Jun 8 '21 at 5:45
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    How did I forget what it is like to live in India? "A Gerund is a word ending in "-ing" that is made from a verb and used like a noun, however the -ing suffix is used to form the present participle of regular verbs. as I have written it, Is a correct statement! However before you can use that suffix in this particular case you need rather+be before the present participle. The present participle consisting of the base form of the verb+the suffix -ing. (The base form of a verb is the form listed in the dictionary. It is the version of the verb without endings such as -s,-ed, or-ing).
    – Brad
    Jun 8 '21 at 7:06
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Although you’ve already accepted an answer, here’s something I hope helps anyhow. Whether it’s a bare infinite phrase that follows would (“be staying at home”), or whether it you look at it as “I would rather be” - and then a gerund phrase that follows ( “staying at home”) - the result is the same. I’d favor the last one, myself, but this may be a difference among Indian English, British English, and American English.

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