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Chinese Grammar: Lesson: Expressing “would rather” with 与其

When expressing a preference, there are a lot of ways in Chinese to say “prefer something to another thing”. You can use 与其...不如 or 宁愿. We call it a preference relationship when using these patterns to indicate you do one thing instead of doing another one.

Rules#

If you still remember the structure 宁可... to express “would rather” with 宁可, in this case, it’s usually used for choosing one through two bad choices. With 与其, you can express your preference normally and neutrally. Two comparisons with a clear emphasis that you’d like to choose. It’s just like “prefer...than” or “it’s better...than/rather than...” in English.

与其...不如

You can use 不如 with 与其 to express your reference. Usually, the option after 不如 is the preferred one by the speaker.

Structure

与其 + A + , + 不如 + B

Examples

与其 不如 出去 散步
It’s better to go for a walk than stay at home.

与其 下去不如 直接
It’s better to ask him directing than to keep waiting.

与其 坐车不如 走路
I prefer to walk than to take a bus.

与其 周一 不如 周二
I prefer going there on Tuesday than on Monday.

与其...宁愿

You can also use 宁愿 with 与其 in a sentence pattern to indicate a preference. There is no difference between them, you can interchange these two words with 与其.

Structure

与其 + A + , + 宁愿 + B

Examples

与其 一起 宁愿 一个人
I would rather be alone than going with him.

与其 日文 宁愿 中文
I prefer studying Chinese than Japanese.

与其 宁愿 哪儿
I would rather not go anywhere than go to his house.

与其 下雪 宁愿 下雨
I prefer raining than snowing.

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