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would rather sentences Options
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Monday, January 7, 2019 12:05:56 PM

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I have come across a silly test which uses the construction WOULD YOU RATHER. I see some sentences which I would like to have looked over by you with a view to seeing whether they are correct.

1 WOULD YOU RATHER have everything you have taken from you but stay alive or will you give your life to keep everything you have?
2 WOULD YOU RATHER spend 10 years in a prison or forever being prosecuted for your crime by everyone you meet?
3 WOULD YOU RATHER have your heart broken forever or not to have loved at all?
4 WOULD YOU RATHER know when she is going to call or not know?
Anything wrong?
Verbatim
Posted: Monday, January 7, 2019 2:50:39 PM
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My take is rather disputable :

1 WOULD YOU RATHER have everything taken from you to stay alive or would you give your life to keep everything you have?
2 WOULD YOU RATHER spend 10 years in a prison than forever being prosecuted for your crime by everyone you meet?
3 WOULD YOU RATHER have your heart broken forever than not have loved at all?
4 WOULD YOU RATHER know when she is going to call than not know?
thar
Posted: Monday, January 7, 2019 3:44:34 PM

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Two points you have to remember

1 the two parts must match

And

2
You don't repeat the common part

So
would you rather choice 1 or choice 2?
I would rather choice 1 (than choice 2)

None are both correct and good form.

1 WOULD YOU RATHER have everything you have taken from you but stay alive or will you give your life to keep everything you have?

Or would you rather will......
Incorrect


2 WOULD YOU RATHER spend 10 years in a prison or forever being prosecuted for your crime by everyone you meet?


Spend or being
Incorrect


3 WOULD YOU RATHER have your heart broken forever or not to have loved at all?

Have or not to have loved
Incorrect
Also, even if this were corrected, it would not be what a native speaker says. The two options must match.
Would you rather never have your heart broken or never lose it at all?
Would you rather love and have your heart broken or never love at all?

(Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.- Tennyson)

4 WOULD YOU RATHER know when she is going to call or not know?

This matches verb form, and matches verb - but it feels overdone by repeating the verb because it is just a simple negative.

Would you rather know when she is going to call, or not?
(Note comma)
Would you rather know when she is going to call or be surprised?

So three are wrong and one sounds unnatural to me, although it is not actually wrong.
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2019 3:18:26 AM

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Could an averagely educated native speaker utter such sentences (without being forced to do that of course - joke)?
thar
Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2019 4:28:09 AM

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No, I don't think so. The repetition of pattern is such a strong speech pattern it is just not natural to change from an infinitive to a participle, or to change the topic in the middle of the construction.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2019 5:38:01 AM

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I agree - it's something which is learned "automatically" as one grows up - it's not just well-educated grammar geeks.
It's a 'natural' thing.

Speakers may sometimes get it 'wrong' - especially in a long sentence in which the two parts are very much separated. Sometimes one can forget how one started - or start a sentence and realise that the ending 'doesn't work' (rather embarrassing for a formal speaker!)

With "rather", the usual form is "rather <bare infinitive> or <bare infinitive>?" or "rather <bare infinitive> than <bare infinitive>."
Would you rather eat or drink?
Would you rather live or die?
He would rather eat than drink.
They would rather live than die.


Your examples have much longer infinitive phrases, but the form is the same:
1 WOULD YOU RATHER have everything you have taken from you but stay alive or give your life to keep everything you have?
2 WOULD YOU RATHER spend 10 years in a prison or forever be prosecuted for your crime by everyone you meet?
3 WOULD YOU RATHER have your heart broken forever or never love at all?
4 WOULD YOU RATHER know when she is going to call or not?
("not" is short for "not know")

You can have 'passive infinitives' (be done) or 'perfect infinitives' (have done) or 'progressive infinitives' (be doing) or 'causative infinitive' (have something done).
These don't always have to match - but sometimes it can be confusing to change.
#2 above is a simple infinitive (spend) and a passive infinitive (be prosecuted), and it sounds fine.
#3 (as it was in the beginning) is awkward because "have your heart broken" is a hypothetical future action, but "have loved" is perfect (a past action causing a present state). This makes it sound very odd, even omitting the 'to', because it is two different uses of the verb "have".


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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