0

I am sure that all the following sentences mean the same and can be used interchangeably:

a) - I prefer having a dog to a cat.

b) - I'd prefer having a dog to a cat.

c) - I prefer to have a dog rather than a cat.

d) - I'd prefer to have a dog rather than a cat.

e) - I’d rather have a dog than a cat.

If you agree with me, then I would really appreciate it if somebody could tell me why #1 and #4 among the examples bellow that have used exactly the same structure, have awkward implications:

1 - I prefer being at home right now to here. ===> (Why does this sentence sound too awkward to the Americans?)

2 - I prefer to be at home right now rather than here.

3 - I’d prefer to be at home right now rather than here.

4 - I’d rather be at home right now than here. ===> (Why does this sentence sound too awkward to an American?)

Added: Perhaps I should think twice about what @FumbleFingers had said in the link bellow: A comparison between the structures "would rather" and "would prefer" Comment #3 (specially about the structure " 'd rather "!)

  • 2
    Could you explain why you feel the highlighted sentences sound awkward to Americans? I can't imagine why #4 would, for example. – Dan Getz Oct 25 '14 at 2:30
  • Thank you for the attention @DanGetz. Telling the truth a cousin of mine who lives in the Georgia more than 15 years, said me last year and I wrote it down somewhere. Tonight I was gathering all information about this specific topic that suddenly I came across this piece of note. It was strange for me too even when he told this semi-rule to me. You know! Whereas there is no any permanent rule about a grammatical point in English language, sometimes we learners have to rely on some heard and said things. – A-friend Oct 25 '14 at 2:40
  • I was wondering if you could help me with a-e examples and then let me ask you some related questions of similar examples. I would really appreciate it. I have a very big problem with this topic. Sounds to be an unsolvable hassle for me. – A-friend Oct 25 '14 at 2:45
  • Alright, then if you could write the actual rule that you heard in your question, that would make it much clearer what your question is about. As it is we just have some sentences that you say should sound awkward. – Dan Getz Oct 25 '14 at 3:11
  • Well; He said: "when we want to talk about what we like in general we use 'prefer' ": ( - I prefer to drink orange juice only at breakfast - ) --- When we want to talk about what we like in specific or particular occasions, we use 'would prefer' or 'would rather': ( - Would you prefer orange juice or apple juice? - ) --- ( - Would you rather have a hot drink? - ) – A-friend Oct 25 '14 at 3:24
1

The first 5 sentences are not actually interchangeable. A and C indicate that you do have a dog (and prefer that to having a cat), while the others simple say you would rather have a dog than a cat.

1 - I prefer being at home right now to here.

This is awkward because: 1: "I prefer being at home right now" indicates that you are at home right now, and prefer it to being elsewhere. But "to here" indicates that you are here -- and that "here" is not "at home." You're essentially trying to be in two places at once, verbally.

2 - I prefer to be at home right now rather than here.

Same problem. "I prefer to be at home right now" verbally places you at home, while "than here" verbally places you "here" which isn't "at home." Again, you are in two places at once, in this sentence.

3 - I’d prefer to be at home right now rather than here.

This sentence is fine.

4 - I’d rather be at home right now than here.

This sentence could work, but it's awkward. (Using a comma to make it "I'd rather be at home right now, than here" makes it slightly better.) It's because English doesn't like breaking up certain words, and "rather than" are words that usually want to stick together. Really, the "than here" is redundant; you could end the sentence at "right now" and be fine.

0

Sentence #1 sounds slightly awkward to me, because on a first reading it sounds like "here" is compared to the whole phrase "being at home right now", instead of to "at home". It could sound less awkward as:

I prefer being at home right now to being here.

or:

I prefer my home to here.

so that it's easier to compare the two things being preferred.

Sentence #4 is how I would say or write it. Maybe you're confusing this with another type of sentence that Americans might find a little awkward:

I'd rather a cat than a dog.

As long as there's a verb after that initial "rather", like in your sentence #4, it doesn't sound awkward at all.

  • What about: "I'd prefer being at home right now to being here."? – A-friend Oct 25 '14 at 2:53
  • About #4, as far as I know we grammatically are not allowed to use a noun or a noun phrase to be compared; we are able to use just a bare infinitive! :( – A-friend Oct 25 '14 at 3:00
  • Meanwhile you didn't mention about #3 and #4! :( – A-friend Oct 25 '14 at 3:05
  • Well, you only asked about #1 and #4. – Dan Getz Oct 25 '14 at 3:09
  • 1
    You really shouldn't be surprised that #1 is awkward, because it is patterned after a), which is also awkward, even if you were convinced otherwise. Both a) and b) sound wrong to me. You can argue it's just normal ellipsis (dropping the second "having a"), but that doesn't mean it's not awkward. Consider this: If it works with "having", how about "breeding" or "comparing". The problem is that "to a cat" sits there inviting us to see it as a prepositional phrase. Ug – Brian Hitchcock Jan 23 '15 at 7:46
0

I would say that all four are incorrect for the reason that they do not maintain parallel structure. Which is required when you have items in a series.

Try taking the sentence apart and using each one to directly finish the beginning statement to determine if it has parallel structure.

I prefer being at home right now. --that's ok

I prefer being at here here right now. --not ok

Here is a word for a relative direction rather than a specific location. You cannot be at a direction. So both "I'm at here" and "I'm at there" are wrong. In our example, we can certainly be at home, but we cannot be at here. Because of this the two words should not not be used together in the predicate as a series.

If you do use them together, you must restate the beginning phrase with correct structure for each word.

"I prefer being at home right now to being here"

This works because now the beginning phrase is "I prefer being", and "at home" as well as "here" can complete the sentence.

That being said, in writing or speaking professionally with someone I would change the sentence to:

I prefer being at home right now over being here in this place.

With that sentence there are two actions and we've removed any need for readers/listener to compare the items, which avoids any awkwardness caused by the two dissimilar words.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.