Listen to this sentence

I'd rather it be with you on date night

in this Big Bang Theory video at 1:07.

Cambridge says you have to use the simple past in the clause after rather in this case.

So I think it should be either

I'd rather be with you on date night


I'd rather it was with you on date night.

  • I rather suspect that what we're hearing is a slurred / reduced version of I'd rather it'd be with you... (i.e. I'd rather it would be with you, where it refers to the hypothetical long and tedious evening previously mentioned). Without at last a nod in the direction of would there, we'd be dealing with a somewhat "high-register" subjunctive usage that doesn't really fit the overall context. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jul 7 '16 at 17:46
  • I'd rather it be... is indeed subjunctive, just like Colleen's I'd rather the long and tedious evening ... happen ... . books.google.com/ngrams/… – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 7 '16 at 18:08
  • books.google.com/ngrams/… – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 7 '16 at 18:14
  • books.google.com/ngrams/… – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 7 '16 at 18:16
  • @TRomano interesting NGrams, especially when you dig into some of the actual instances. There is "I could tell Frank wanted to know, but he decided he would rather it be a surprise." and "If he must die, I'd rather it be there than in the streets of Marseilles." but then there are also phrases like "You will one day see that even in the world of success (rather it be school, a job, or personal goals) confidence will take you a long way." – ColleenV Jul 8 '16 at 2:49

The grammar is OK, it's just not the pattern that you think it is.

The complete sentence is

Honestly, if I must endure a long and tedious evening, I'd rather it be with you on date night.

The pattern isn't exactly the one you chose from the English Grammar Today page because of the "if" clause. The pattern explained on the site would apply to this sentence (same subject for the clause)

I'd rather have date night with you than go to the memorial service.

But the "if" part of the sentence changes things. If I must endure X, I would rather endure it with you than at the memorial service.

I would paraphrase it as:

I'd rather the long and tedious evening I have to endure happen with you on date night than take place at the memorial service.

You could say "I'd rather (the long tedious evening I must endure) was with you on date night." but it is a little awkward sounding to me because we're talking about something in the future. I will poke around and see if I can find a reference to explain it in more detail instead of asking you to rely on my intuition about it.

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  • I'm not sure if the if has anything to do with it. See my answer for an example without if. – eijen Jul 7 '16 at 16:39
  • Your explanation is not very convincing! See my Answer! – Tom Jul 8 '16 at 2:19

In this case, the full context is:

Honestly, if I must endure a long and tedious evening, I'd rather it be with you on date night.

One, considering this is a TV show, it would be strange if a mistake in vernacular grammar survived long enough to actually be shown on TV.

Two, as a native AmE speaker, this sounds fine; I could use both "I'd rather it be" (infinitive) and "I'd rather it was" (simple past). I think the question here may be a difference of dialect between AmE and BE, since the site you cite is the Cambridge Dictionary.

Note that the same construction is used in the famous American novel To Kill a Mockingbird:

He had to take it out on somebody and I'd rather it be me than that houseful of children out there.

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The answer is so simple, we got a wrong subtitle. The correct one should be:

SHELDON: Honestly, if I have to endure a long and tedious evening, I'd rather be with you on Date Night.) Source

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  • youtu.be/Uns6bixYeGs?t=1m2s I clearly hear "I'd rather it be with you" even though he speaks quickly. At the top of the IMDB page you linked it says: The content of this page was created directly by users and has not been screened or verified by IMDb staff. It's not even a transcript, just a synopsis. Regardless, there's nothing wrong with the grammar, which was what the question was asking. – ColleenV Jul 8 '16 at 2:34
  • @ColleenV, there is no grammar book supports "I'd rather it be". – Tom Jul 8 '16 at 2:49
  • 1
    That's just nonsense - look at the NGrams that @TRomano linked. That construction is used all over the place. – ColleenV Jul 8 '16 at 2:50
  • @ColleenV, there is other legitimate link say "I'd rather be with you on date night". It could be that the actor used wrong grammar. avclub.com/tvclub/… – Tom Jul 8 '16 at 2:51
  • The grammar isn't wrong even if the transcription "I'd rather be with you" is correct (which it's not). – ColleenV Jul 8 '16 at 2:56

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