Apr 14th, 2011, 02:26 am
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Join Date: Oct 8th, 2006
| | Re: I wouldn't prefer to or I would prefer not to
I would prefer not to do it.
Preferences in English are always expressed positively. It is the action which is negated. In other words, if you say eg I (would) prefer not to work on Saturdays, the thing which you don't want is " to work on Saturdays". You have a positive preference for not doing something. Therefore, it's the verb work which has to be negated. After prefer the verb is in the infinitive with to and this is negated simply by placing not in front. So the structure of the sentence is :
I (would) prefer / not to work on Saturdays.
Positive preference + negative action
Expressing preferences therefore differs from expressing likes or wants, where it is negative liking/wanting which is usually expressed :
I don't want to work on Saturdays
I don't like working on Saturdays.
but when you're expressing preferences the preference is always positive and it is the action which is negated. Some more examples:
I'm not a complete vegetarian but I prefer not to eat red meat
I'd prefer not to fly - let's take the train.
I preferred not to talk to him, because I knew it would just make me angry.
Notice that it is the semantic concept of preference which is important here, not the verb prefer itself. If you express preference in any other way, the rule is the same : the preference remains positive and the action is negated :
I'd rather / not talk about it
I'd sooner / not go