rather than + infinitive or gerund

Discussion in 'English Only' started by odin_revisited, Mar 24, 2008.

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  1. odin_revisited Junior Member

    India and Tamil
    Whether a sentence that starts with "rather" should have it verb in gerund form or infinitive form. For example, in the following sentence,

    "Rather than regard Levinas as a resident of “Jerusalem” and Strauss as a citizen of “Athens,” Batnitzky suggests that the fundamental difference between the two thinkers is a disagreement over the meaning and status of modern philosophy itself."

    would it be better to replace "regard" with "regarding", as to read "Rather than regarding Levinas...itself".

    Can someone help me get clarified my doubt?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    Rather than regard ... here sounds like an injunction to the reader: Batnitzky suggests to us that instead of looking upon Levinas as [....], we should look upon the difference as [....]
    Whereas Rather than regarding ... sounds like Batnitzky's injunction to himself: Batnitzky, rather than holding the view that Levinas [....], suggests that he should look upon the difference as [....]

    It's quite a subtle difference, but I believe there is a difference.
     
  3. odin_revisited Junior Member

    India and Tamil
    Thanks. Yet, I seem not be clear about the explanation. Can anyone be more specific about the usage and the difference between them (leaving the context given)?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  4. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    There are several previous threads, odin, which you'll find if you put rather than into Dictionary Look-up.

    Judging by the threads I looked at, rather than can be followed by either the gerund or the bare infinitive, but the gerund often seems to sound more natural.
     
  5. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    1. "Rather than regard Levinas as a resident of “Jerusalem” and Strauss as a citizen of “Athens,” Batnitzky suggests that the fundamental difference between the two thinkers is a disagreement over the meaning and status of modern philosophy itself."

    2. "Rather than regarding Levinas as a resident of “Jerusalem” and Strauss as a citizen of “Athens,” Batnitzky suggests that the fundamental difference between the two thinkers is a disagreement over the meaning and status of modern philosophy itself."

    I think both are grammatically correct but that there is a difference of emphasis, if not of meaning, between them.

    Let's simplify to explain more clearly:

    1a. Rather than regard F as Swiss and D as Serbian, Batnitzky suggests that the difference between them is that one is taller than the other.

    2a. Rather than regarding F as Swiss and D as Serbian, Batnitzky suggests that the difference between them is that one is taller than the other.

    In 2a. Batnitzky (B) is avoiding regarding F as Swiss and D as Serbian.

    In 1a. B is suggesting that we should avoid regarding F as Swiss and D as Serbian.

    For me the regarding (in sentences 2 and 2a) modifies Batnitzky, while in the sentences 1. and 1a., B is inviting people to regard...

    That's quite an important difference of stress. I wonder if other people share my view.
     
  6. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
    I admire your analysis and I share your view about the difference. I think your 1a is the intended reading.

    However, if that is the meaning, I would be happier with the construction of the original sentence if the main clause contained something like "we should consider the fundamental difference". The underlying structure would then be:
    "Batnitzky suggests that rather than regard ..... we should consider...." ​

    As it stands, the underlying structure does not cohere, in my view:
    "Batnitzky suggests that the fundamental difference is ...... rather than regard ..... " ​

    Having seen your analysis, I think that Olin is correct. As written, it would be better to have "regarding", though as a participle modifying Batnitzky, rather than as a gerund. (I realize this is not the point you were making.)
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014
  7. whynottail Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    Chinese
    I think for all purposes "regard" and "regarding" mean just the same. Consider the following two pairs of sentences and draw conclusions yourselves-

    I believe it is important to invest in new machinery rather than increase wages.
    I believe it is important to invest in new machinery rather than increasing wages.

    We ought to check up, rather than just accept what he says.
    We ought to check up, rather than just accepting what he says.
     
  8. KHS

    KHS Senior Member

    I agree with Thomas Tompion in the distinction he makes between the use of the simple form and the use of the gerund in your specific example.
     
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