We will often see the use of the term “prefer” followed by the preposition “to”, “over” or “than”. However, that begs the question – which is the correct phrase to use and when is it appropriate to do so? This article will be highlighting all useful information on this particular topic.
Prefer To/Over/Than – Which Is The Correct Preposition?
The prepositions “prefer x to y” and “prefer x over y” are considered to be correct in the English language. However, the two have different appropriate uses. As for “prefer x than y”, this is only correct if the term “rather” is added, making it “prefer x rather than y”.
When Should I Use “Prefer To”?
Generally speaking, “prefer to” is considered to be the most appropriate preposition to use in the English language. This is because when a sentence is meant to compare two aspects, opinions, etc., the second of the two things or factors, is usually introduced by the term “to”.
Considering that we use “prefer” to say we enjoy something; a person, an activity, a thing, more than another, it makes “to” the obvious choice to complete the comparative sentence.
It’s important to note that we will use “prefer to” when we are describing an action using a verb. For example, I prefer eating beef, to eating chicken – where “eating” is the verb.
We will now go over some examples sentences that highlight the use of the “prefer to” combination:
- I prefer drinking coffee to drinking tea.
- I prefer driving in my own vehicle to flying in a plane, despite the safety statistics.
- I prefer reading books to reading magazines or a newspaper.
- I prefer driving in the light of day, to the street lights at night.
- I prefer the option of purchasing my own copy of a book, to renting a copy from the library.
- I prefer ordering dinner to eat at home, to eating in a loud and busy restaurant.
When Should I Use “Prefer Over”?
While “prefer to” may be considered more popular in use, to use “prefer over” is also considered correct and applicable in the proper context. We will use “prefer over” when there are two clear choices in the phrase or sentence – one of which, we would choose over the other.
In terms of “prefer over,” we use this preposition when we are attempting to make a comparison using nouns. For example, I prefer beef over chicken – where “beef” and “chicken” are the nouns.
We can now look over the following examples, that showcase the appropriate and proper times to use the preposition of “prefer over”:
- I prefer the sport of football over the sport of hockey.
- I prefer the vacation resorts in Mexico over Cuba.
- I prefer using pencils over pens to write.
- I prefer ice cream cake over regular baked cakes.
- I prefer spending to with my grandparents over my parents.
- I would prefer to get sushi over pizza.
When Should I Use “Prefer Than”?
The preposition “prefer than” can and should only be used when the word “rather” is added in, or else this phrase comes across as entirely nonsensical. When we say “prefer rather than” we are following proper English rules, by using a valid construct.
We can use “prefer rather than” when we have a more complex comparison, as it is a more adequate way of depicting such circumstances.
We will now look over the following examples that show how we can use this preposition when constructed properly and including the term “rather”:
- I would prefer to keep sleeping, rather than having to get ready to go to school.
- I prefer watching comedies, rather than a movie that could potentially scare me.
- I prefer keeping my friends close, rather than focusing on keeping my enemies closer.
We can also look over a few examples that include the incorrect use of “prefer than”:
- Correct: I prefer to go out to eat at a restaurant, rather than ordering takeout and it being soggy by the time it arrives at my house.
- Incorrect: I prefer to go out to each at a restaurant, than ordering takeout and it is soggy by the time it arrives at my house.
- Correct: I prefer shopping online, rather than shopping in stores.
- Incorrect: I prefer shopping online than shopping in stores.
- Correct: I prefer to go swimming in a pool, rather than going swimming in a large lake or ocean.
- Incorrect: I prefer to go swimming in a pool, than going swimming in a large lake or ocean.
Is It “I Prefer Coffee To Tea”, “I Prefer Coffee Over Tea”, Or “I Prefer Coffee Than Tea”?
Either the phrase “I prefer coffee to tea” or “I prefer coffee over tea” would be considered correct, while “I prefer coffee than tea” would be considered incorrect. However, following the rules of the English language, we would generally choose “I prefer coffee over tea”.
This is because the phrase “I prefer coffee over tea” is comparing two nouns and as we have previously gone over, the comparison of preferences between two nouns is paired with the preposition “over”.
Here are some examples that show how we can correct these phrases:
- Correct: I prefer coffee over tea.
- Incorrect: I prefer coffee to tea.
- Correct: I prefer drinking coffee to drinking tea.
- Incorrect: I prefer coffee than tea.
- Correct: Generally, I prefer to drink coffee in the morning, rather than drinking tea.
Quiz: Have You Mastered The Prepositions For “Prefer”?
We will now go over a small quiz to test your knowledge of the prepositions for “prefer” after reading this article. The answers or the quiz will be available in the section below the questions.
- I prefer drinking soda pop (A. To/B. Over/C. Than) drinking sparkling water.
- I preferred my time in California (A. To/B. Over/C. Than) Florida.
- I would have preferred my birthday be in the summer, rather (A. To/B. Over/C. Than) having a winter birthday.
- I prefer driving my car (A. To/B. Over/C. Than) riding on a train or flying in an airplane.
- I prefer football (A. To/B. Over/C. Than) soccer or hockey.
- I would prefer to be sleeping rather (A. To/ B. Over/C. Than) waking up at 6 am to go to work.
- I prefer watching Hollywood films (A. To/ B. Over/C. Than) to watching Bollywood films.
- I prefer reading science fictions novels (A. To/B. Over/C. Than) reading non-fiction novels.
You may also like: “I’m Partial To” – Meaning Explained (With Examples)
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.