Monday, 19 December 2011

Tell Me, What Would You Rather Do?

SCENARIO
Imagine you are discussing joint activities with a relative, a friend or a colleague. For some reason, you may be failing to make much progress.  The other person may feel the need to ask you to concentrate on identifying your preference. The other person wants you to tell him/ her "what you would prefer doing".

He/ she could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime, ¿qué preferirías hacer?

Alternatively, he/ she could choose to more formal and say to you:
Dígame, ¿qué preferiría hacer (usted)?



OUR TIP
You DO NOT need be concerned about the degree of formality in what your relative/ friend/ colleague says to you. Whether the other person uses a more/ less formal register is irrelevant to your choice of reply. 

Situations like this one invite answers which should include a 'conditional' tense. There is 'conditional' verb in the request, which should be reflected in the reply. Basically, your answer depends on what you want to say about your preferences. Maybe you want to say that your preference is:
  • Doing something (unconditional).
  • Doing something (on some condition -real possibility).
  • Doing something (on some condition - only probable possibility).
  • Doing something (on some condition - impossible condition).

Here some examples which deal with those basic possibilities:
  • Preferiría ir de compras (I would rather go shopping)-unconditional.
  • Preferiría ir de compras si no llueve (I would rather go shopping if it does not rain)-Real possibility.
  • Preferiría ir de compras si no lloviese (I would rather go shopping if it did not rain)-only probable posibility*.
  • Hubiera preferirido haber ido de compras si no hubiese llovido (I would have preferred to have gone shopping if it had not rained)-impossible condition*

Now you should practice answering the question:
Dime, ¿qué preferirías hacer?

*Please see grammar below


Grammar-Subjunctive
Please note that this form of expressing your preferences is a typical example of the use of conditional and subjunctive:
  • "I would rather <do something> if  <something happened>".
  • "I would have preferred <to have done something> if  <something had happened>".
  • "I would prefer <doing something> if  <someone did something>".
  • "I would have preferred <to have done something> if  <someone had done something>"

Please note also that the order could also be changed to:
  • "If  <something happened>, I would rather <do something>".
  • "If  <something had happened>, I would have preferred <to have done something>".
  • "If  <someone did something>, I would prefer <doing something>".
  • "If  <someone had done something>, I would have preferred < to have done something>".

In order to express this in Spanish, you could use:
  • "si <imperfecto de subjuntivo>..., preferiría... "
  • "si <pluscuamperfecto de subjuntivo>..., preferiría... "
  • "preferiría..., si <imperfecto de subjuntivo>... " 
  • "preferiría..., si <pluscuamperfecto de subjuntivo>... "  

Some examples of imperfect subjunctive and conditional are:
  • Si hiciese sol, preferiría ir a la playa (if it was sunny, I would rather go to the beach).
  • Si hubiese hecho sol, habría preferido haber ido a la playa (if it had been sunny, I would have preferred to have gone to the beach).
  • Preferiría llamarte, si me dieses tu número de teléfono (I would prefer to call you if you gave me your telephone number).
  • Preferiría haberte llamado, si me hubieses dado tu número de teléfono (I would have preferred to have called you if you had given me your telephone number).

Now you should practise conditional and subjunctive expressions of this type of your own.


This is another Free online Spanish lesson from Love-Spanish.com. We conduct lessons online on this and many other topics using the latest video conferencing facilities. Online lessons are the ideal way to improve listening and speaking skills. For more details on our lessons online and how to book them, please visit:

For more Free Spanish:
Follow us on:
Twitter: @LoveSpanish_com
© Copyright 2011 Love-Spanish.com. by Jose M González. All Rights Reserved
Post a Comment