1. I’d rather do something

  2. I’d rather not do something

  3. I’d rather not have done something

  4. I’d rather you did something

  5. I’d rather you did not do something

  6. I’d rather you had not done something

When changing the sentence into the negative one, why the particle "not" comes before "have" in 3 and after "had" in example 6. There is also a possibility that I have constructed the sentences in a wrong way. Please, advise!

  • 2
    Great question, and I can give you a partial answer. The normal rule in English is that "not" comes after the last auxiliary verb. This rule explains all the sentences except #3. Also, the following sentence is correct: 3b. "I'd rather have not done something." So the question is why it's allowable in this sentence to have "not" before "have". I have a feeling it's because "rather not" is an irregular idiom, but I'm not confident enough to make this a proper answer.
    – gotube
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 5:40

2 Answers 2


The following four are all acceptable:

  • "I’d rather you not have cheated that day."
  • "I’d rather you had not cheated that day."
  • "I’d rather not have gone to the party."
  • "I’d rather have not gone to the party."

Some of these sentences sound more normal than others, but none of them are strictly breaking any widely accepted written rule. So the problem is not that we are being inconsistent in how we treat "you" and "I", it's just that your list didn't contain all possible versions of the sentences that are acceptable!


I’d rather do something.
I’d rather not do something.
I’d rather not have done something.

In these sentences, do and have done are bare infinitives. A bare infinitive is an infinitive without to. For example:

To-infinitive: I decided to travel more.
Bare infinitive: I should travel more.

Have done is a perfect infinitive. It refers to the past. For example:

To-infinitive: He pretended to have seen this movie.
Bare infinitive: I should have called her.

As you can see, modal verbs (should in these examples) typically require a bare infinitive.

To make an infinitive negative, you should put a not in front of it.

To-infinitive: I decided not to travel more.
Bare infinitive: I should not travel more.

To-infinitive: He pretended not to have seen this movie.
Bare infinitive: I should not have called her.

The d in 'd rather is short for would, and would is a modal verb that requires a bare infinitive. Therefore, the not should go before that bare infinitive.

I’d rather you did something.
I’d rather you did not do something.
I’d rather you had not done something.

Here, you did something, you did not do something, and you had not done something are clauses. They have a subject (you) and a verb (do). To make a verb negative, you should put an auxiliary verb in front of it and add a not after that auxiliary verb.

You could also take a look at this useful article.

  • athlonusm, thank you for your explanation! It took me some to time to absorb it, but now the pieces of the puzzle fall in place just right with this expalantion.
    – IRINA
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 5:08

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