‘would rather’ | ‘it’s time’ + PAST TENSE CLAUSE

Here we look at examples of using ‘the past tense’ in a way that is not referring to past time.  In these EXPERT EXAMPLES:

It’s time we started to think about the environment and a little bit less about money.

Isle of Man Newspapers

As an environmentalist, we would rather that didn’t happen.

TED

‘the past tense’ expresses a wish that is distanced from the real situation. In reality, they are not thinking about the environment, but they wish they started thinking about it.  In the second example, the thing does probably happen, but they wish it didn’t.


GSE 66 B2 (these are more like C2 in reality)

‘would rather/it’s time’ + VP (past)

‘would rather’ is listed at B1 in the English Vocabulary Profile.  However, it makes no case for the use of the past tense or using a clause after it.’  For this reason, we believe a B2 highlight is at the very least, more appropriate for this complex structure.  In reality, the fact that it doesn’t seem to exist in iWeb corpus at all, suggests this should be C2.  In addition, the English Grammar Profile lists ‘It’ cleft clauses at C2 which seems appropriate, but does not mention the even more complex addition of using the past tense without past meaning.

Here are Pearson’s examples with snapshots from our grammar profiler before and after we added B2 highlights:

I’d rather we stayed in tonight.
I’d rather we went to the cinema.
It’s time we left.

 

I’d rather we stayed in tonight.
I’d rather we went to the cinema.
It’s time we left.

 


In all the corpora we could not find much or any information for ‘would rather’ + past.  However, in iWeb we searched for:

It _vbz time * _VVD

1 IT ‘S TIME WE STARTED 139
2 IT ‘S TIME YOU GOT 116
3 IT ‘S TIME WE GOT 107
4 IT ‘S TIME WE STOPPED 102
5 IT ‘S TIME WE TOOK 84
6 IT ‘S TIME YOU STARTED 69
7 IT ‘S TIME YOU TOOK 62
8 IT IS TIME WE STARTED 52
9 IT ‘S TIME YOU LEARNED 40
10 IT ‘S TIME I GOT 34
11 IT IS TIME WE TOOK 33
12 IT IS TIME WE STOPPED 33
13 IT ‘S TIME WE MADE 33
14 IT ‘S TIME YOU FOUND 31
15 IT ‘S TIME YOU KNEW 29
16 IT ‘S TIME WE MOVED 27
17 IT ‘S TIME YOU MADE 27
18 IT ‘S TIME YOU WENT 26
19 IT ‘S TIME YOU TRIED 24
20 IT IS TIME WE GOT 24