[Grammar] Rather than

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yuriya

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Hello, everyone. Please tell me which one is right and why.

Rather than go to college, he joined the army.
Rather than went to college, he joined the army.

Thanks in advance.
 

Tdol

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Which do you think is right?
 

yuriya

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Hello, everyone. Please tell me which one is right and why.

1. Rather than go to college, he joined the army.
2. Rather than went to college, he joined the army.

Thanks in advance.

Which do you think is right?

Normally, I'd go for the sentence 2 (past-past tense) but I found a structure with rather than, where bare infinitive and past tense were used like the example sentences above. That is, except for the meaning the structure the same. I tried to locate the source now but I just can't find it now. I was wondering if there was some kind of weird rule that bare infinitives should be used when rather than was being fronted.
 

TheParser

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Hello, everyone. Please tell me which one is right and why.

Rather than go to college, he joined the army.
Rather than went to college, he joined the army.

Thanks in advance.


***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Good morning, Yuriya.

(1) As one American president used to say: I feel your pain.

(2) Yes, "rather than" is SUPER WEIRD.

(3) In fact, some people try to avoid it. They use "instead of" + gerund:

Instead of going to college, he joined the army.

(4) I found a great (and short) article on the Web. If you google,

maybe you can find it. It comes from THE AMERICAN HERITAGE BOOK OF

ENGLISH USAGE, 1996. The title of the article is "rather than," and it's in

the section entitled "Style: Parallelism, Passives, Redundancy, and

Wordiness."

(a) It's the clearest explanation that an ordinary person like me could

ever hope to find. It REALLY will help you!

(5) Yes, you are 100% correct: If the phrase "rather than" starts the

sentence, then there are some rules; if "rather than" follows the main

verb, then there are other rules!!!

(6) The only good news is that native speakers use all kinds of

combinations, and nobody really cares that much.

(a) The bad news is that your second sentence is NOT accepted

by native speakers.

(7) You can do what I do: every time I read something that uses

"rather than," I copy it in my notebook. So far, I have 25 different

combinations to study.

Have a nice day!

P . S. I cannot explain why your second sentence is not acceptable.

Hopefully, someone will explain the matter to you and me.
 
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My choice:

He decided to join the army rather than go to college.

I'm also confused.
 

corum

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Rather than has two meanings.
1. more readily than, in preference to
They obeyed the order rather than suffer torture or death. Fronting is permitted.
Rather than suffer torture or death they obeyed the order.
2. and not
She telephoned rather than wrote. Fronting is not permitted.
In the end he survives rather than conquers. Fronting is not permitted.
Rather than can also be used as a preposition (= instead of)
Their actions precipated the war rather than averting it.

According to A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, the subordinator rather than is followed by a bare infinitive clause when the matrix clause expresses the subject's preference. For example,
He paid the fine rather than appeal to a higher court.
Rather than is generally best treated as a quasi-coordinator when it is used with matching forms in the clauses. For example,
They were screaming rather than singing.
She telephoned rather than wrote.
Rather than is a preposition, not a quasi-coordinator, when it is followed by an -ing participle clause that does not match the verb in the matrix clause. For example,
Their actions precipitated the war rather than averting it.

1. Subordinator (Fronting is permitted): followed by a bare infinitive clause
They obeyed the order rather than suffer torture or death.
Rather than suffer torture or death they obeyed the order.
He paid the fine rather than appeal to a higher court.
Rather than Robert drive in his present state, I'd prefer to drive him home myself.
2. Preposition (Fronting is permitted)
Their actions precipated the war rather than averting it.
I decided to write rather than phoning.
Rather than using the last of my cash, I decided to write a cheque.
3. Quasi-coordinator (Fronting is not permitted): used in parallel structures.
She telephoned rather than wrote.
In the end he survives rather than conquers.
.
 

sarat_106

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***** NOT A TEACHER *****


P . S. I cannot explain why your second sentence is not acceptable.

Hopefully, someone will explain the matter to you and me.

I fully agree with you as also your previous post in a similar thread (below) endorsed by BobK
"Rather than" vs "Instead of" - UsingEnglish.com ESL Forum

With regard to the reasons for non acceptance of the second sentence, I will try to explain with rules.
What comes after "rather than" is always grammatically equivalent to what comes before the phrase. This rule applies, when "rather than" is used as a conjunction and it is important to make the two things thus connected parallel in form. For example,
They must combine their efforts rather than fight each other,
I am watching TV rather than preparing for the test tomorrow.
But sometimes "rather than" is a preposition, and then the two things being compared will not necessarily be in the same form. That's what happened in the second sentence: Rather than going(went) to college, he joined the army. The underlined expression can be correct prepositional phrase by replacing ‘went’ with the gerund form.
 
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yuriya

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I love Teo's post (if interested follow the link Corum provided above) and yet wonder what he means by the following:

When rather than is used as a subordinator, it has a comparative meaning: approximately "more readily, in preference to." When it is used as a preposition or a coordinator, this meaning is largely or wholly lost.

Anyone care to elaborate on this?
 

Raymott

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I love Teo's post (if interested follow the link Corum provided above) and yet wonder what he means by the following:
Note that Teo's post has a problem, in that he asserts that 'rather than' is parallel; look at the objection to his post by Jussive. (The same point has already been made here.)


When rather than is used as a subordinator, it has a comparative meaning: approximately "more readily, in preference to." When it is used as a preposition or a coordinator, this meaning is largely or wholly lost.

Anyone care to elaborate on this?
Consider this sentence:
"Despite all their preparations, they lost the war rather than winning it".
It should be immediately apparent that they hadn't preferred to lose the war.
('Winning' might not necessarily be the only form you can use here, but that's beside the point of this post.)
 

corum

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"rather than" constructions are not necessarily parallel. Sometimes they are obligatorily unparallel. And at other times they are obligatorily parallel.

Quirk et al., (1985): When the subordinate clause introduced by 'rather than' expresses the subject's preference, bare infinitive is required.

He chose to stay at home rather than go outside. :tick:
He chose to stay at home rather than went outside. :cross:

He was not successful. He survived rather than conquered. :tick:
He survived rather than conquer. :cross:
---
Rather than go to college, he joined the army.
Rather than went to college, he joined the army.

choice:
Rather than go to college, he joined the army. :tick:
He joined the army rather than go to college. :tick:

go :tick: --rather than = subordinator
went :cross:
going :tick: -- rather than = subordinator

'rather than' as a preposition? :-| I would very much like to see a principled syntactic argumentation in favor this view.
------
Rather than went to college, he joined the army.

This sentence is parallel: went --joined.
Parallelism is allowed when 'rather than' carries the meaning 'and not'. In the sentence above, the 'and not' meaning of 'rather than' only semantically fits. Synticatically it is not okay as 'Rather than' with this meaning can't introduce a sentence.
 
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