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• I would rather ('I prefer', 'I would prefer') is used as a modal auxiliary verb. It is followed by the infinitive (without 'to') when its subject is the same as the subject of the next verb. This happens when we talk about what we would prefer to do.
• Would rather is followed by a past subjunctive when its subject is different than the subject of the following verb. This happens when we talk about what we want someone else to do. (The past subjunctive is conjugated in the same way as the simple past, except for 'to be'.)
Note: The verb to prefer is a synonym of would rather, but has a slightly more formal, impersonal tone.
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