+0
I would like to know if "Rather" (not "Rather than") can be used to start a sentence. For example, is the following a good style?

The existence of all those licensed firearms and of so much Protestant military expertise does not justify the republican refusal to decommission. But it does help to explain why your average Falls Road Catholic does not view the IRA's arsenal as a dagger held at the throat of democracy. Rather, nationalists tend to see it as a modest defence against all those other potentially hostile guns out there.

How about this?

It's not that his predecessor wasn't supportive, rather the take-over distracted him somewhat.
And this?

No, rather, it’s that Google did a better job at simplifying the interface than you did.
Should "or rather" or "but rather" be used instead of "rather" in the second example? Is a comma required after "rather".
Comments  
Hi Pter
PterI would like to know if "Rather" (not "Rather than") can be used to start a sentence. For example, is the following a good style? This is fine. "Rather than" is not possible. Rather basically means "instead" here.

The existence of all those licensed firearms and of so much Protestant military expertise does not justify the republican refusal to decommission. But it does help to explain why your average Falls Road Catholic does not view the IRA's arsenal as a dagger held at the throat of democracy. Rather, nationalists tend to see it as a modest defence against all those other potentially hostile guns out there.
How about this? I'd say it's OK the way it is. You could add the word "but" as long as you also add the word "that":

It's not that his predecessor wasn't supportive, but rather that the take-over distracted him somewhat.

It's not that his predecessor wasn't supportive, rather the take-over distracted him somewhat.
And this? It's OK, and I'd say the second comma is not needed.

No, rather, it’s that Google did a better job at simplifying the interface than you did.
Should "or rather" No or "but rather" No be used instead of "rather" in the second example? Is a comma required after "rather".
Thank you very much, Amy.
Does it mean that I need a comma if "Rather" is used in the sense of "Instead" to start a sentence, but the comma is not needed when "rather" is used in the middle?
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Hi Amy,
After re-reading your reply, I just want to make sure you didn't misunderstand me. My question below was referring to the second example, not the last one. I shouldn't have put the question after the last example.

Should "or rather" or "but rather" be used instead of "rather" in the second example?
So, can I say

It's not that his predecessor wasn't supportive, or rather, the take-over distracted him somewhat.
I'm not sure if the above is a good example since the original sentence was just a random sample I found on the Internet.
I just found another example from the Cambridge Advanced learner dictionary

She'll go to London on Thursday, or rather, she will if she has to.
What confuses me is that I am not sure if I can only use the structure (.... comma or rather comma ....) when "rather" means "more exactly". Can I also use this structure when I use "rather" to mean "instead" in the middle of a sentence.
Hi Pter

One reason that commas are difficult is that the "rules" are often flexible. There is a much repeated rhyme about commas that kids often get in school here, and I think that rhyme is not too bad as a very general guideline for comma usage: "When in doubt, leave it out."

Generally speaking, a comma should help a reader understand the sentence, and a comma often reflects where a brief pause would be when the sentence is spoken. However, it is also possible to "over-comma" a sentence. Some people insert so many commas that the commas become a distraction. Too many commas can hinder rather than help the reader.
PterDoes it mean that I need a comma if "Rather" is used in the sense of "Instead" to start a sentence, but the comma is not needed when "rather" is used in the middle?
Personally, I would generally use a comma after "Rather" when "rather" starts off the sentence (as in your very first example) because I would probably pause after the word. In addition, I think it better indicates a connection to the previous sentence that way.
It's not that his predecessor wasn't supportive, rather the take-over distracted him somewhat.
In your second sentence (i.e. the quote above), I'd have probably used the "but rather" format I mentioned previously, or begun a new sentence with "Rather, it is". As the sentence is written, I don't think the addition of another comma (after "rather") would actually help the reader.

In your second sentence (i.e. the quote above) I would definitely NOT use "or rather". The word "or" would indicate that the first half of the sentence is still an alternative possibility/option, but that is not what is meant. What the sentence means is this:
Idea 1 = His predecessor wasn't supportive. = NOT TRUE
Idea 2 = The takeover distracted him somewhat. = TRUE

Using "but rather" would be OK because the word "but" does not suggest that the two halves of the sentence are both possible options. The word "but" would only serve to join and present two contrasting ideas in one sentence.
PterI just found another example from the Cambridge Advanced learner dictionary

She'll go to London on Thursday, or rather, she will if she has to.
What confuses me is that I am not sure if I can only use the structure (.... comma or rather comma ....) when "rather" means "more exactly".
Yes, you can use both commas, but I don't think the second one is absolutely necessary. This is a case where the word "or" indicates an option of sorts. In other words, it presents an alternative way of saying the basically the same thing. The words "or rather" are followed by alternative wording that is more exact or perhaps a little better than the wording in the first half of the sentence. Unlike the sentence in the previous quote, using "or rather" works in this case because the first half of the sentence is not completely untrue -- it's only less exact.

Hope that helps. Maybe someone else will chime in with some additional thoughts.
Hi Amy
Thank you very much indeed. Your explanation do help me a lot. It seems that I have mixed up different usages of "rather" and you have helped me to clear it out. Thank you so much!
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
With regard to the first "but rather" / "or rather" / "rather" question:

I would be most comfortable to suggest this alternative.

"It's not that his predecessor wasn't supportive; rather, the take-over distracted him somewhat."

Semicolons for the win.
Emotion: smile