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    • Join Date: Aug 2004
    • Posts: 75
    #1

    Rather than/instead of

    Hi,
    Can someone clarify if "rather than" and "instead of" are interchangeable?
    I looked up the meaning of these two words on dictionary.com and American Heritage.
    But the examples they had on their sites do not give me a clear concept.
    On AH, they just stated that it's now more common to use "rather than" followed by a gerund.

    Thanks.

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #2

    Re: Rather than/instead of

    In terms of meaning, 'rather than' expresses a more likely alternative in the form a polite suggestion, whereas 'instead of' expresses a direct exchange, something like, in place of. The nuance, though, is slowly fading away.


    • Join Date: Aug 2004
    • Posts: 75
    #3

    Re: Rather than/instead of

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    In terms of meaning, 'rather than' expresses a more likely alternative in the form a polite suggestion, whereas 'instead of' expresses a direct exchange, something like, in place of. The nuance, though, is slowly fading away.
    According to your explanation, I should use "rather than" when I have a preference for something. Right?

    Can you please take a look at this thread as well?
    https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/showthread.php?t=14581

    Thanks.

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #4

    Re: Rather than/instead of

    Hmm, well, it all depends on the context, and your audience, really. The operative phrase there is "a more likely alternative". Putting aside distributional facts, "rather than" and "instead of" are considered synonymous in certain positions, so that tells us they are fairly close in meaning. So, if you choose to use "rather than" to mean "a more likely alternative", that doesn't mean your reader or listener will pick out that meaning. S/he could just as likely interpret "rather than" as a synonym for "instead of".

    I'll take a look at the other thread.

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