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  1. angliholic's Avatar
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      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
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      • Taiwan
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      • Taiwan

    • Join Date: Feb 2007
    • Posts: 2,988

    Rather than punish or punishing

    Rather than _____ your son, you should get the whole picture first.

    Which fits better here, punish or punishing? And why? Thanks.

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

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

    Re: Rather than punish or punishing

    I came across this:

    'Rather than can also be used with nouns as a compound preposition meaning "instead of": I bought a mountain bike rather than a ten-speed. But some people object to this use, insisting that than should be used only as a conjunction. They therefore object to constructions in which rather than is followed by a gerund, as in Rather than buying a new car, I kept my old one.
    In some cases, however, rather than can only be followed by a gerund and not by a bare infinitive. If the main verb of the sentence has a form that does not allow parallel treatment of the verb following rather than, you cannot use a bare infinitive, and you must use a gerund. This is often the case when the main verb is in a past tense or has a participle. Thus, you must say The results of the study, rather than ending (not end or ended) the controversy, only added to it. If the main verb was in the present tense (add), you could use the bare infinitive end.
    Curiously, when the rather than construction follows the main verb, it can use other verb forms besides the bare infinitive. Thus you can say The results of the study added to the controversy rather than ended it.
    The overriding concern in all of this should be to avoid faulty parallels, as in sentences like Rather than buy a new car, I have kept my old one and Rather than take a cab, she is going on foot.
    Clearly, it is grammatically defensible to follow rather than with a gerund, but if you prefer to avoid the controversy, use instead of with gerunds.'
    All the best.


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