I'd rather you come/came

Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2009 11:00 am
I'd rather you come/came next weekend.

Should it be 'come' or 'came'?

Many thanks.
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Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2009 02:04 pm
You can use either one. I suspect most people would use "come," but either one is acceptable.
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Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2009 05:06 pm
I would use 'come' - my fiance says 'came'

Undecided in this household...
Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2009 06:10 pm
You'll sort it out -- with the help of a good counselor, if necessary.

On the question itself, both my Chicago Manual of Style and Garner's Dictionary of Modern American Usage are silent. Instinctively, I would say that both constructions are grammatically correct, but slightly different in content. To me, the phrase "I'd rather you come" implies "... and you probably will", whereas "I'd rather you came" impies "but you probably won't". In other words, I think of the "I would rather" construction as a contracted conditional, whose expanded form is "I would rather if you come/came".

But that's just my intuition. I have no authority to back that up with.
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 11:12 am
On the question itself, both my Chicago Manual of Style and Garner's Dictionary of Modern American Usage are silent.

This is sort of the equivalent of looking to Paul Harvey's News & Commentaries for advice on physics, astronomy, or other discipline, Thomas.



The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) is an unparalleled resource for those engaged in publishing, particularly of academic material. But the Press decided to farm out the topic of grammar and usage, and the writer they selected was Bryan A. Garner, a former associate editor of the Texas Law Review who now teaches at Southern Methodist University School of Law and has written several popular books on usage and style. His chapter is unfortunately full of repetitions of stupidities of the past tradition in English grammar " more of them than you could shake a stick at.


Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 11:19 am

Would you use 'came' or 'come'? Or either one as Setanta has advised.

Many thanks.
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 11:27 am
Thomas explained it quite well, Ms Tan. I'll just add that we use the past tense FORMS to distance things which can have the effect Thomas noted or it can simply be a more deferential statement, sort of like,

"I'm expressing my choice but I'm leaving whether you come or not up to your good judgment".
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Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 12:05 pm
Step away from the book, Thomas. It'll do you serious harm. Smile

Good discussion on the rank stupidity of these prescriptions and these prescriptivists.



So what does Garner say in GMAU? He's an idiot. On page 832:

Suffice it to say here that if you see a which with neither a preposition nor a comma, dash, or parenthesis before it, it should probably be a that.


Twice, my aggressive truculence about the That Rule (and a collection of other zombie rules) has prompted editors to cave in to my craziness and let me do whatever I want. Me. Not anyone else, just me, for this one book. They were then baffled that I didn't view this response as really satisfactory. I pointed out that the scholarly books their firms published on English grammar uniformly failed to subscribe to the That Rule, so that their presses looked like packs of hypocrites and fools. They simply didn't get it. For them, one thing is scholarship, the other thing is practice. They're just different.

Every so often I really run off the rails and rant. Paraphrasing some from my e-mail to one of these presses:

Sometimes I wonder: if the people who make up style sheets and enforce them are so damn fond of arbitrary and indefensible "rules" not grounded in usage, even the usage of the intellectual elites, why don't they just invent some? Say, your press won't publish any word with the letter "z" in it, or any sentence that begins with a vowel letter, or any occurrence of the pseudocleft construction, or the sequence "is for" (no matter how it arises)? I can think of hundreds of entertaining "rules" of this sort. You could hire people to enforce them, and make every book published by your press ENTIRELY CONSISTENT with them. And then schoolchildren everywhere could be drilled on these "rules". Your press could go down in history.

Hey, John Dryden did it for stranded prepositions. Some still-unidentified person(s) did it for possessive antecedents for pronouns, less than a century ago. There's plenty of territory still available. Talk it up to your board.

Somewhat more seriously (though my rant is not entirely unserious), there are hundreds and hundreds of stylistic choices that could be excised. The option between that relatives and zero relatives, for example: the people (that) I met. The option between complementizer that and no complementizer, for another: I think (that) we should go. I could go on for quite a while. Why are we being allowed to make these choices willy-nilly? Why isn't there a CLEAR RULE about which choice to make? How is the That Rule different from these putative rules?


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