I would rather... - How to Express your Preferences in German

Stating Your Preference - To Prefer in German

Robotic arm choosing and examining man standing out from the crowd
How to be picky in German. Andrew Baker-Ikon Images@getty-images

Do you know how to express your preferences in German?

Knowing how to express one's likes and dislikes are pretty important, but at times stating your preference instead can sound less harsh and and more precise as to what you want to say. Here are several ways to express your preferences in German in a nice way:

  1. etwas vorziehen = to prefer (transitive verb)

    Der Schüler zieht Fussball allen andereSportarten (dative) vor. 
    =The student prefers soccer over all other sports.

    Das Mädchen zieht den Pudel den anderen Hunde(dat.) vor.
    =The girl prefers the poodle over all the other dogs.
  1. etwas lieber tun = to do something rather than another thing

    When expressing your preferences with lieber tun, replace tun with the verb you need and place it before lieber as follows:

    Wir gehen lieber in die Oper. 
    =We would rather go to the Opera.

    If you state in a general way an item that you prefer, then you need to omit the article for that item:

    Ich esse lieber Wurst. = I prefer sausage.

    If you state a specific item that you prefer, then you need to include the article for that item. The item will be in the accusative.

    Ich esse lieber diese Wurst. = I prefer this sausage.

    If you state that you prefer one item/person over another, then the conjunction als will be used.

    Ich spiele lieber "Mensch ärgere dich nicht" als "Monopoly".
    I prefer to play "Mensch, ärgere dich nicht" over “Monopoly”.

    *"Mensch, ärgere dich nicht" is a German board game much like the American board game "Sorry."
  2. If you can choose between more than two possibilities, then you must use the term am liebsten.

    Am liebsten trinke ich Orangensaft. = Orange juice is my favorite.
    Ich esse am liebsten Schweinekotelett. = Porc chops are my favorite.)

  1. Derivatives of lieben are used to indicate preference in the form of adjectives, and compound nouns.

    As a compound noun --> Mein Lieblingsfilm… = My favourite film
    As an adjective --> Sein liebster Spruch... = His favorite saying…

  2. Es wäre mir lieber... = I would prefer...

    Es wäre mir lieber, wenn Du schon um acht kommen würdest.
    =I would prefer, if you came already at eight.

    Es wäre mir lieber, wenn ich das nicht machen müsste.
    =I would prefer not to have to do this.

  1. etwas bevorzugen (transitive verb)
    • As a simple statement of preference:

      Der Vater bevorzugt seinen Sohn. = The father prefers his son.
      Sie bevorzugt den Krimi. = She prefers the crime novel.

      The item or person preferred is in the accusative.
    • When stated with the item / person compared to:
      The prepositions vor or gegenüber may be used in the sentence.

      Der Vater bevorzugt seinen Sohn gegenüber seiner Tochter. 
      The father prefers his son over his daughter.
    • Er bevorzugt seine Katze vor seinem Hund. 
      He prefers his cat over his dog.

      The item or person compared to is in the dative.

Now you should have more than enough options to express what you'd rather like to have or to do. 
Don't hesitate to let Germans know very straightly as they are really, really bad mind readers. Don't expect them to read between the lines. They are famous for their literal way of communication.


Edited on August 1st 2015 by Michael Schmitz 

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Bauer, Ingrid. "I would rather... - How to Express your Preferences in German." ThoughtCo, Feb. 22, 2016, thoughtco.com/express-your-preferences-in-german-1445188. Bauer, Ingrid. (2016, February 22). I would rather... - How to Express your Preferences in German. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/express-your-preferences-in-german-1445188 Bauer, Ingrid. "I would rather... - How to Express your Preferences in German." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/express-your-preferences-in-german-1445188 (accessed December 17, 2017).