When the phone rang, the grey-haired man asked the girl, with quite some defference, if she would rather for any reason he didn't answer it.

I would like to ask why there is not used a verb in the phrase "if she would rather"? Is this standard usage? Can I rewrite it in this way: if it would be better/rather for her for any reason…?

  • Probable duplicate #1 and probable duplicate #2 – tchrist Sep 24 '15 at 13:39
  • @bart-leby I suggested voting to close this question as a duplicate of “I would rather did it myself” or “I would rather do it myself”? because I think an answer in that question explains the clause inside this pattern (in your case: "he didn't answer it") clear enough. You're free to either accept or refuse the the duplicate (in the case that you think that that answer doesn't answer your question). – Damkerng T. Sep 24 '15 at 14:02
  • Rather is actually being used as a verb. (It is a frequently used idiomatic form) As an alternative you could use prefer. – WS2 Sep 24 '15 at 14:04
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    @WS2 I don't really think rather is a verb here, nor ever. I think what's happening is that would is simply the past tense of the non-modal verb will meaning “wish”, like in “I would that it were earlier.” – tchrist Sep 24 '15 at 15:38

"Answer" is the verb, you can see it this way, if you remove some words out of this sentence you can get "if she would rather answer it". Rather can be seen as a synonym to prefer prefer. You could say "if she would prefer for any reason he didn't answer it".

Yes you could use "if it would be better for her for any reason" but it's not good english.

However you can't use "if it would be rather for her for any reason".

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