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Example (audio version: http://tindeck.com/listen/wtoo):

You may not have ever come across this before. For example, my food order ID, I want it to be an Autonumber data type because I don't care what the number is. I want it to be a number. But I'd rather Access just take care of making sure that my food order IDs are unique.

Could you please explain to me how this grammar pattern works?

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  • The past form "took care" is probably more common. (For example, see dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/…) I think whether using the present subjective is possible (as the speaker did) is quite interesting. (It makes me think of something like "I wish he be here" or "I wish she take care of it".) Dec 21, 2014 at 0:35

3 Answers 3

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Phew, what an example...

Let's use a shorter example with less tech speak.

  • I'd rather my Mom cook dinner tonight. or
  • I'd rather my Mom cooked dinner tonight.

Pattern:
Subject 1 - would/'d rather - subject 2 - verb - ....

This is a slightly more complex pattern that the would rather - phrases with the same subject (subject - would/'d rather - verb in infinitive/subjunctive); e.g. I'd rather have a cookie (...than ice cream).

This pattern is used to express a preference, but note that the alternative is not always stated expicitly. Quite often, it has to be inferred from the context.

Please note:

  • In AE, both present subjunctive and past subjunctive are gramatically correct.
    Hint for learners: The present subjunctive seems quite similar to the simple present. It can best be recognized by the "missing +s" in 3rd person singular. (-> ...Access take care of...) The past forms are identical. Only exception: The verb "be" has two distict subjunctive forms: be (present) and were (past).

  • In BE, for two different subjects:
    The verb in simple past is used to talk about events in the present or the future.
    For past events, you need to use past perfect.
    See more details: Cambridge University

Therefore, your original example could also be:

But I'd rather Access just took care of making sure that my food order IDs are unique.

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  • 1
    But the OP's example has a verb in the plain form take not took :) Dec 20, 2014 at 21:05
  • Would rather can take backshifted verb forms as you've used, or it can take verbs in the plain form, as in the OP's example. As you point out the Op's example is a bit of a mouthful! Dec 20, 2014 at 21:22
  • Well you could have a look here Dec 20, 2014 at 21:38
  • If you're saying that AE can't use past perfect for past events, that's incorrect. Dec 21, 2014 at 12:56
  • @PeterShor: I'm not. Im referring to tense in OP's example only. For more detaiils, I've given the link - I don't want to "blow up" my answer into a grammar lesson ;-)
    – Stephie
    Dec 21, 2014 at 13:01
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You may not have ever come across this before. For example, my food order ID, I want it to be an Autonumber data type because I don't care what the number is. I want it to be a number. But I'd rather Access just take care of making sure that my food order IDs are unique.

This passage is very colloquial, a transcript of an oral presentation, perhaps. The publisher of this text may have no editors on staff.

You may not have ever come across this before.

You may not have seen this before.

For example, my food order ID, I want it to be...

... ID, which I want to be an Autonumber.

I want it to be a number. But I'd rather Access just take care of making sure that my food order IDs are unique.

Normally, "I'd rather" implies a choice, not merely a wish. And "but" usually involves a contrast or a conflict or an exception. But there is no choice here, and there is no conflict.

I want the ID to be a number, and I want Access to make sure that my IDs are unique.

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In:

I want it to be a number. But I'd rather Access just take care of making sure that my food order IDs are unique.

using take in the present tense is OK, because at such time (if it happens) that Access performs such an action ( making sure that my food order IDs are unique) it will be in the present time.

Another example:

I would rather you leave me alone tonight.

Borrowing from the example from @Stephie:

I'd rather my Mom cook dinner tonight.

is also OK.

However, I think past tense is often used, but I don't think that is necessarily correct.

(AmE disclaimer)

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  • Past tense is required in British English for two different subjects.
    – Stephie
    Dec 21, 2014 at 7:43
  • @Stephie OK, I added the necessary disclaimer. The question has no region specific tag so I can only guess what they are looking for.
    – user3169
    Dec 21, 2014 at 20:56

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