9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[pri-fur] /prɪˈfɜr/
verb (used with object), preferred, preferring.
to set or hold before or above other persons or things in estimation; like better; choose rather than:
to prefer beef to chicken.
Law. to give priority, as to one creditor over another.
to put forward or present (a statement, suit, charge, etc.) for consideration or sanction.
to put forward or advance, as in rank or office; promote:
to be preferred for advancement.
Origin of prefer
1350-1400; Middle English preferre < Latin praeferre to bear before, set before, prefer, equivalent to prae- pre- + ferre to bear1
Related forms
[pri-fur-id-lee, -furd-lee] /prɪˈfɜr ɪd li, -ˈfɜrd li/ (Show IPA),
preferredness, noun
preferrer, noun
unpreferred, adjective
1. favor, fancy. 3. offer, proffer, tender.
1. reject. 3. retract.
Synonym Study
1. See choose. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for prefer
  • Spectacled eiders and turnstones are birds that also prefer the lower areas.
  • Other authors prefer to be more cryptic.
  • It could simply be that a lot of people prefer the trappings of suburban life.
  • So evolution-wise we prefer someone who falls for us after some courting.
  • It is a fairly reliable generalisation that people prefer pleasure over pain.
  • Do you prefer writing short stories to novels?
  • What do sharks prefer to eat? Where do sharks tend to look for their meals?
  • Readers who prefer the unofficial inside story are also in luck.
  • For note taking, I personally prefer to type, but others may prefer to doodle with their finger or a pen stylus.
  • Some students, especially medical students, prefer to own their books.
British Dictionary definitions for prefer


verb -fers, -ferring, -ferred
(when transitive, may take a clause as object or an infinitive) to like better or value more highly: I prefer to stand
(law) to give preference, esp to one creditor over others
(esp of the police) to put (charges) before a court, judge, magistrate, etc, for consideration and judgment
(transitive; often passive) to advance in rank over another or others; promote
Derived Forms
preferrer, noun
Usage note
Normally, to is used after prefer and preferable, not than: I prefer Brahms to Tchaikovsky; a small income is preferable to no income at all. However, than or rather than should be used to link infinitives: I prefer to walk than/rather than to catch the train
Word Origin
C14: from Latin praeferre to carry in front, prefer, from prae in front + ferre to bear
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for prefer

late 14c., "to put forward or advance in rank or fortune, to promote," from Old French preferer (14c.) and directly from Latin praeferre "place or set before, carry in front," from prae "before" (see pre-) + ferre "to carry, to place" (see infer). Meaning "to esteem (something) more than others" also is recorded from late 14c. Original sense in English is preserved in preferment.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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