El Condor Pasa (If I Could) by Simon and Garfunkel

In this grammar lesson you will learn how to express what you prefer to do or who you prefer to be using the structure I would rather do… than… and I would rather be… than …

I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite song you’ve probably heard before. It is called “El Condor Pasa (If I Could)” and was recorded in 1968 by Simon & Garfunkel.

This is the cover version of a song by Peruvian composer Daniel Aloma Robles written in 1913 and based on traditional Andean folk melodies.


Here are some tasks for you:

1. Listen to the song and fill in the blanks.

2. Look at this photo-collage. You can see that there are 13 pictures, but there were only 10 blanks in the test. Which words were NOT used in the song?




3. Grammar Note:

1) Would rather do = would prefer to do. After would rather we use the infinitive without to

e.g. I’m tired. I’d rather not go out this evening, if you don’t mind.

Do you want to go to the cinema this evening? I’d rather not.

In this song the structure –

would rather do something than do something else is used.

e.g. I’d rather stay at home than go to the cinema.

2) Would rather someone did something

When you want someone else to do something, you can say:

I’d rather you did/ I’d rather he did etc.

we use the Past in this structure but the meaning is present or future, not past.

Compare: I’d rather cook the dinner now.

I’d rather you cooked the dinner now.

e.g. Shall I stay here? Well, I’d rather you came with us.

I’d rather you didn’t tell anyone what I said.

Do you mind if I smile? – I’d rather you didn’t.


I. Make sentences using I’d rather than structure and the words in brackets:

Example: (walk/go by car) I’d rather walk than go by car.

1) (go for a swim/play tennis): ___________________________ .

2) (read a book/watch TV): _____________________________ .

3) (wait for a few minutes/ leave now) ______________________ .

4) (eat at home/go to a restaurant) ________________________ .

5) (think about it for a while/ decide now)___________________ .

II. Now use I’d rather you (did something).

You are talking to a friend. You say you’ll do something but really you want your friend to do it.

Example: Ill cook the dinner if you really want me to but Id rather you cooked it.

1) I’ll phone Tom if you really want me to but ____________________________ .

2) I’ll do the washing-up if you really want me to but _____________________________.

3) I’ll go to the bank if you really want me to but _____________________________ .

4) I’ll tell Ann what happened if you really want me to but _____________________________ .

III. Now make up your own sentences 3 sentences with I’d rather than structure and 3 sentences with I’d rather you (did something)’ structure.



3. _________________________________________________

4. _________________________________________________

5. _________________________________________________



4. Let’s get back to the song. Listen to it again. There are the lines in the chorus:


A man gets tied up to the ground,

he gives the world

its saddest sound,

its saddest sound.”

How do you understand those lines? Please share your thoughts.



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