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Would rather (but not would prefer to) is also followed by a past tense when we want to involve other people in the action, even though it has a present or future meaning. Study the following:

a.Shall we go out for dinner tonight? ~ No, I'd rather we ate at home, if you don't mind.

b.My rephrased: Shall we go out for dinner tonight? ~ No, I'd rather we eat at home, if you don't mind.

I have extracted the italic parts from a grammar site, but would you tell me if the bold part is correct, too? If so, what is the difference between a. and b. semantically?

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I believe you asked about a special use of would rather. Without trying to explain the grammar point on my own, I will let you read what the author says about this special usage.

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    Problem here: true for BE, AE actively uses subjunctive, which is easily confused with simple present. – Stephie Jan 14 '15 at 16:08

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