While reading Sherlock Holmes, I found a sentence unexplained. “I should prefer having a partner to being alone.” A sentence from “A study in scarlet”. What’s the reason “to being alone” comes after such a sentence like that? I prefer having parter means I don’t want to be alone, right? But then to being alone turns it no sense to me. Would you help me explaining why? You can just throw an answer if in a hurry. Thanks in advance. “By Jove!" I cried, "if he really wants someone to share the rooms and the expense, I am the very man for him.” These are the before-sentences in case you don’t get it!
Oct 14, 2019 9:14 AM
Answers · 7
If you're talking about your preference for one option over another option, the standard construction is 'prefer x to y'. In this phrase, 'to' is a normal preposition ( rather than part of an infinitive), so it needs to be followed either by a noun or a gerund, in this case 'being'. For example, if you'd rather swim than sunbathe, you'd say "I'd prefer swimming to sunbathing". The speaker would rather have a partner than be alone, so he says "I'd prefer having a partner to being alone". I hope that helps.
October 14, 2019
When reading such stories you should keep in mind that the writing is of the style of 100 years ago.
October 14, 2019
It means he prefers having a partner - more than being alone. I'm not a teacher, so I can't explain the grammatical reasons, but when you are sharing a preference for something, we say "I prefer X to Y" He is comparing one state of being, to another state of being.
October 14, 2019
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