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Prefer

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Abstract

This paper traces the historical development of the verb <i>prefer</i>, with a particular emphasis on its occurrence with non-finite complements. Special attention is paid to the spread of the &#8216;<i>prefer to</i>&#8217; construction in the 19th century at the expense of &#8216;<i>prefer -ing</i>&#8217;, a development running counter to the prevailing trend of the expansion of the gerund form of complement, sometimes referred to as the Great Complement Shift. The <i>prefer</i> constructions are compared to other constructions encoding comparison and an explanation is offered as to why &#8216;<i>prefer to</i>&#8217; was a comparatively late developer.

References

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