I prefer staying home to going to the concert.

I'd prefer to stay home (rather) than (to) go to the concert.

Would you please elaborate which one you use? Or, when or where would distinguish between those?

  • 1
    Idiomatically, "I'd rather stay home than go to the concert" (using the "unmarked infinitives" stay and go) seems the simplest and most natural form for OP's context. With prefer it's optional whether or not to "downplay" the strength of the assertion using "auxiliary" would, but with rather you need it (often contracted to 'd in informal contexts) because it's actually the "main" verb (rarely used that way today except in established collocations like would rather, would sooner). Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 14:40
  • The answer to this question is in understanding the use of the word 'would' and the difference it makes in any sentence in which it's used. 'Prefer' does not create an exception to the rules of 'would'. Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 15:38
  • Would refers to a theoretical past situation. Excluding 'would' refers to whatever tense the rest of the sentence is in. That is the only difference. While using 'would' in such an expression is slightly more common, they both essentially are expressing the same sentiment, the preference of staying home over going to the concert. Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 15:45

3 Answers 3


As written, both sentences could be used to state that one does not want to go to a particular concert and would like to stay at home instead. The first is mildly unusual for American English conversation, but not overly much - nobody would comment on it and everyone would understand what you meant. The second is more often used (in my experience). With a small modification to the first statement a significant difference can be seen.

Suppose we change the first version to the following:

I prefer staying home to going to concerts.

Here we're saying that as a general rule we do not like attending concerts and would prefer to stay at home. It doesn't matter which concert, we don't want to go. In my experience this construction, using gerunds instead of infinitives, is used primarily for generalities.

The second statement is more natural sounding, though it is a bit more formal than what I normally hear in conversation.

I'd prefer to stay home (rather) than (to) go to the concert.

This refers to a specific concert that I do not wish to attend. If I changed it to a concert instead of the concert then this would have the same generality as the first version, and it would still be idiomatically correct. The parenthetical "to" is usually omitted with simple statement where the comparison you're making is obvious. In a more complicated sentence (perhaps using longer technical words or a particularly long phrase as the first item being compared) it would probably be included.

For American English conversation, the following is how this sentiment would likely be stated.

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


The simple present is often used to express the idea of one's habit or general practice, a general rule.

I prefer to stay at home and watch DVDs these days; at the movie theater people are always talking loudly on their mobile phones, even though the theaters remind the audience to turn their mobile phones off.

But you are not using the simple present in that manner, since you say "the concert". You are referring there to a specific concert, not to concerts in general. We could change the continuous "staying" to "stay":

I (would) prefer to stay (at) home and not go to the concert.

Using would there expresses your wish politely: you might be willing to defer to another's wishes. Leaving would out expresses your wish more firmly. You are probably unwilling to defer to another's wishes.


I prefer staying home to going to the concert.

I prefer to stay home (rather) than (to),go to the concert.

Grammatically speaking, there is a little difference in meanings of these sentences. When you make a general statement that you like one thing or activity more than another, you use the following statement:

I prefer staying home to going to a concert or I prefer to stay home rather than go to a concert.

However, if you want to talk about the present or future preferences, you should form your sentences as under:

I'd prefer to stay home rather than go to the concert

I'd rather stay home than go to the concert.

I'd prefer staying home to going to the concert.

I think the first sentence and then the second sentence are more common and informal.

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