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When I say for instance: " I would prefer you to stay here" it refers to the presence and future. What about when I want tp refer to the past? I would prefer you stayed is fine or there is some other way?

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    Does this answer your question? I would think ( that ) ... vs I think ...? Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 13:59
  • I would have preferred you to stay (but you didn't). Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 14:05
  • If you're referring to the past, you just say I would have preferred X rather than I would prefer X. Note that it's fine in the present not to include would (it means nothing anyway - it's just a "politeness" indicator). But whereas I prefer X is "natural", I preferred X isn't very natural (and when it does occur, it usually implies a preferrence that was satisfied, whereas I would have preferred X strongly implies the speaker didn't get what they wanted. Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 14:05
  • This question needs more clarity to answer effectively. It is unclear whether the past of the preferring is being referred to or the past of staying or both. Also, two different constructions in the post are used with "prefer": "prefer someone to do something" and "prefer (that) someone do something. These require different answers. Lastly, "prefer" and "would prefer" also use tend to use different constructions. If the poster gave a more complete hypothetical describing the situation they want to express, it would be easier to answer. Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 17:48
  • @FumbleFingers There is a difference between 'prefer' and 'would prefer'. 'prefer' is used to say what you prefer in general and 'would prefer' is used to say what somebody wants in a specific situation
    – kyadere
    Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 21:35

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You can use perfect infinitives:

  • I would prefer you to have stayed
  • I would have preferred you to stay
  • I would have preferred you to have stayed
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    I would prefer you stay or stayed.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 21:35
  • I would have preferred for you to have stayed. I would have preferred that you should have stayed. There are always more ways to skin this particular cat! Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 23:04

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