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Verbs - Want, Prefer, Would Rather

Verbs - Want, Prefer, Would Rather

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Want, Prefer, Would Rather


Hello! In this lesson we will learn how to use three useful ways of expressing likes and preferences. We will look at each expression and how each is used. The verb "to want" can be used in a wide array of situations and circumstances. The verb "to want" is conjugated regularly in this way: "I want, you want, we want, they want" and a plural subject such as "David and Jennifer want", and "he wants, she wants, it wants", and a singular subject such as "Jennifer wants".

The verb "to want" can be used with the infinitive form of another verb, such as:  "I want to play." or "David wants to sleep."The verb "to want" can also be used with nouns or pronouns, like "David wants his jacket." or "David wants his sweater, and Jennifer wants one, too.".

The verb "to prefer" is used similarly to the way the verb "to want" is used.  It is always used as a type of comparison, for example. "Jennifer wants to work. David prefers to sleep." or "David wants a jacket." Jennifer prefers a sweater.". Notice that "to prefer" means to like better, so there must be references to both the thing that is preferred and the thing that is not preferred.  We can also say "Jennifer wants to work; David prefers not to.".

This sentence means "Jennifer wants to work; David prefers not to work."
The expression "would rather" is not conjugated; it is always "would rather".  It is used with verbs, not with nouns or pronouns.  For example. "David likes to play football; Jennifer would rather work.". It is sometimes used with the word "not", for example, "David likes to play football; Jennifer would rather not.".  We could also say "David likes to play football; Jennifer would rather not play football.".

Now that you understand the usages of these expressions, let us listen to a dialog between Jennifer and David.

Jennifer: I want my book.

David: Do you want to read?

Jennifer: Yes, I do. Do you?

David: I would rather eat.

Jennifer: Are you hungry?

David: Yes, I am. Do you want to eat?

Jennifer: I would rather not.

David: What do you prefer to do?

Jennifer: I prefer to read my book.

Now that you have heard these expressions, let us take a closer look at each sentence. At first, Jennifer says "I want my book.". Notice that we can use "to want" with a noun. We can use "to want" with any noun.  For example, we might say "I want my jacket.", "Jennifer wants her blouse.", "We want our sweaters.".

David asks "Do you want to read?" Notice that we can use "to want" with the infinitive form of a verb. We might also say "We want to play.", "She wants to read.", or "They want to smoke.".

Jennifer says, "Yes, I do. Do you?". The short form of Jennifer's answer and succeeding question can be understood as meaning "Yes, I want to read. Do you want to read?".

David answers by saying "I would rather eat.". We notice that when we use the expression "would rather", we do not need to use the infinitive form of the following verb; instead we use the base form of the verb which is formed by stripping off the "to" from the infinitive form.

After Jennifer asks "Are you hungry?", David responds "Yes, I am. Do you want to eat?". David might have said "Yes, I am hungry. Do you want to eat?". Notice that we use the infinitive form "to eat" with "to want".

Jennifer responds "I would rather not.". Since David previously asked "Do you want to eat?", Jennifer's response means "I would rather not eat.".

David asks "What do you prefer to do?". The first time we see the word "do" in the question, it is an auxiliary verb which helps to form the question. The second time we see the word "do in this question, it is an action verb which means (translate to do) to do. He is asking her what she wants to do. The question word "what" with the action verb "do" requires verb in the answer.  Jennifer answers "I prefer to read my book.".

Now that you understand these very useful expressions, listen to the dialog again. Listen for the different uses of "want", "prefer", and "would rather".

Jennifer: I want my book.

David: Do you want to read?

Jennifer: Yes, I do. Do you?

David: I would rather eat.

Jennifer: Are you hungry?

David: Yes, I am. Do you want to eat?

Jennifer: I would rather not.

David: What do you prefer to do?

Jennifer: I prefer to read my book.

Excellent! These useful expressions will help you ask about people's preferences and tell about your own. Your English ability is increasing, and you are learning more and more. Now is the time to put these expressions to work in your English conversation.