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Thread: instead vs. instead of vs. rather vs. rather than

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    instead vs. instead of vs. rather vs. rather than

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    can somebody please elaborate the difference in their usage with some examples?

    All i am sure of is that instead of is followed by a noun. (edit: or may be not!)

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by Lav; 10-04-2011 at 10:52 PM.

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    instead of vs. rather than

    Quote Originally Posted by Lav View Post
    can somebody please elaborate the difference in their usage with some examples?

    All i am sure of is that instead of is followed by a noun. (edit: or may be not!)

    Thanks in advance!
    Hmm... I feel like I've explained this before in some detail. Let me try searching.

    A quick search found this:
    • instead of vs. rather than
    • And a quick point I made some time ago: rather than is (usually) a conjunction, NOT a preposition; instead of is a preposition, NOT a conjunction.
    But I can't find anything else I've written on this on the Urch forums.

    I'll give you a quick run-down:
    • instead is an adverb. Example: Let's not go home. Let's stay at the park instead. Remember, adverbs are the most movable of the English parts of speech, so there are several locations that instead could appear in the sentence. Other parts of speech do not afford this flexibility. Also remember: instead comes from the word stead, which means place. So it may help to think of instead as "in place of", as that's what it etymologically derives from.
    • instead of is a preposition. Example: Let's not go home. Let's stay at the park instead of going home. Remember, prepositions are followed by nouns.
    • rather is an adverb and is used to show preference for something (in other words, two or more options are available, but one is preferable). Some examples:
      • Let's not go home. I would rather stay at the park.
      • Let's stay at the park. It's rather hot.
    • rather than works well as a conjunction. Example: Rather than go home, let's stay at the park. Note that go and stay are parallel (as conjunctions require parallel structure).
    You can imagine that there's a lot of overlap here. But let me give you an example of when the two are not interchangeable. Imagine you're driving somewhere and your car runs out of gas. You could say, Let's walk instead. Or, Instead of driving, we can walk. In the same situation, it wouldn't be quite right to say *Rather than drive, let's walk, since walking is not your preference (rather, it's your only option).

    There's a lot more that I could say, but I hope that points you in the right direction. Perhaps if there is enough interest in this, I could expand it in an article or a lesson in the near future.
    ☼ Waiting for Godot

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the detailed explanation. Just one last thing: can rather than never be followed by a noun? is this incorrect?: Let's stay at the park rather than going home.

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