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    Question instead / rather

    Hello, Are they the same ?

    1. Janice walk to school instead of driving.
    2. Janice rather walk to school than driving.

    Thank You.

  1. #2

    Re: instead / rather

    [CAUTION: I am not a teacher:take the advice and or corrections offered in this post at your own risk.
    If you doubt the information, please get a qualified opinion from one of the teachers on these forums.]

    Ok first, let me rearrange your sentences a little:

    1. Janice walks to school instead of driving.
    2. Janice would rather walk to school than driving[drive].

    I am almost certain the word you are looking for is actually "prefer" as in:

    Janice prefers walking to school to driving.

    Your confusion is understandable, the underlying rules governing these words are quite complex, but let's have a go at them anyway.


    "Instead" was not always one word, it was originally "in someone or something's stead" as:

    Perhaps you could go in my stead.
    He's not here, I will be helping in his stead.

    Here we can see that instead means one thing is replaced by, or used to substitute another. Your first sentence has the connotation that Janice is using walking, because she cannot do something else, or whereas others choose some other form of travel. i.e.

    Everyone chooses to drive, but Janice chooses to walk instead. (walks, instead of [in place of] driving) try to think of it as two words:

    "She walks in stead of driving." or: "If you don't want to get protien from meat, you could eat beans instead (in their stead/in their place).

    "Instead", in my mind usually implies that we have no choice, or we choose something else simply because another thing is not available, or has some disadvantages.

    "Rather" and "prefer" seem to imply that we are actively selecting one thing, and rejecting the other. In this sense, again in my mind, "rather" seems to imply a slightly stronger choice, whereas "prefer" seems weaker and more open to suggestion.


    "Rather", in the way you present it, means "to prefer". In my experience, it is used mainly in imaginary constructions "would rather", and perhaps never in "real" constructions like "I rather fish to chicken"(x).

    Rather seems to be used mainly in the construction "I would rather (do)." and should not be followed by noun as in:

    A:Do you want to sleep?
    B:I would rather eat.

    A:Do you want to sleep?
    B:I would rather sleep than eat.

    I would rather be prepared than not (prepared).

    I would rather walking. (x)
    I would rather sleeping than eating(x)

    Do not be confused by the comparative "rather".

    It is rather (quite/very) hot outside.
    That coat is rather (quite/very) expensive.

    So what do we do when we want a "real" construction? We use "prefer".


    As a modal, prefer is followed by the infinitive "to (do)", or a noun and can be used in "real" or "imaginary" constructions.

    I prefer to fish in the mornings.
    I prefer beer to wine.

    "Prefer" can also be used in an "imaginary" case:

    I would prefer to be informed.

    Prefer can also be used as an adverb and seems to be mainly imaginary when it is.

    Preferably, he would be gone when I return.

    There seems to be an infinitesimal difference between the implications of "rather" and "prefer", I'm not going to attempt to explain it, but I will suggest the following:

    "We would prefer to know when he leaves the house."
    This implies that "we" have some authority over "he", and could require him to tell "we" when he leaves the house.

    "We would rather know when he leaves the house."
    This seems (to me) to imply that "we" are more passive in the situation and have either no way to change it, or don't dare to.

    But this may just be a ghost of my own impression, and not a real connotation of the words.

    Again, more qualified members are encouraged to point out anything lacking or suggest additions (or do both) if they like.


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