English as a Second Language/rather than,,,,



Hope you are fine. Which choice is correct? Please explain your reasons.

"Rather than ............ the truth to them, Peter takes pleasure in deceiving the family and receiving credit."

a) breaking
b) to break
c) break

Please always feel free to answer my questions when you have time. I will willingly wait for your great answers.

Thank you

ANSWER: Hi Hame,

(b), the to- infinitive,  is rarely used with 'rather than'; many people would consider it to be incorrect.

As to the other two, I have never been able to find a satisfactory answer as to which is supposedly more correct. I am not even certain which one I'd use; both seem fine to me. However, there are far more citations in both the the Corpus of Contemporary American English and the British National Corpus for the -ing form than for the bare infinitive, so that's the one I suggest you go with.

Incidentally, I find your sentence rather unnatural. We break the bad news to people, but we don't normally break the truth. The 'and receiving credit' at the end makes little sense to me without more context.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks. Please give me some more examples with RATHER THAN in which a verb has come after RATHER THAN.


ANSWER: Hi, Hame,

You'll find quite a few here: http://fraze.it/n_search.jsp?q=rather+than+&l=0&sugg=off

As these are sentences that have actually been written by others, you'll get a better idea of the range of possibilities than if I just compose some for you. Only some of these have 'after than' followed by a verb, but you'll be able to pick them out quite easily.

Best wishes,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I am really confused now. I look at the examples. They confuse the reader. I wonder whether to use an  -ing form or the bare infinitive after RATHER THAN.


As I have suggested before, there isn't a clear difference. It usually won't matter which you put. If one form is essential in another part of the sentence, I tend to stick with that, particularly if both verb forms are part of an auxiliary + verb form construction:

"She spends her time drinking rather than looking after the children."
"She will resign rather than put up with that."

I really would not worry too much about this.  

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Jed Webb


I can assist with questions about English grammar (syntax, morphology, pronunciation and spelling)from learners taking such examinations as TOEFL, IELTS, FCE and CAE and other internationally recognised tests.


I have over forty years of experience in the teaching of modern languages, twenty-four of them in the Teaching of English as a Second Language. I have been an examiner for FCE, BEC and IELTS examinations, and a teacher trainer on courses leading to the Trinity College Certificate in TESOL.

The Philological Society The International Phonetic Association The College of Teachers The International Association of Teachers of EFL The Royal Society of Arts (Fellow)

British Journal of Language Teaching, Vol XIX Nos I and II Education Today, Vol 41, Nos 1 and 3 Co-Author: Nix and Webb (1984) 'Creative English', Bad Homburg: Verlag Gehlen Contributor: Nix and Riederer (1973), 'Bottoms Up', Bad Homburg: Verlag Gehlen Rosenau and Nix, (1979), 'Look it up', Bad Homburg: Verlag Gehlen Nix and Ringholz, 'English in Projects', Bad Homburg: Verlag Gehlen

BA (English), University of Durham. Qualified Teacher Status, UK Department of Education and Science Further and Adult Education Teacher's Certificate, City and Guilds of London Institute ACP(TESOL), College of Preceptors Dip TESOL, Trinity College, London Dip Ed (ELT), Exeter University ACP (Management Studies in Education), College of Teachers Certificate of Proficiency in the Phonetics of English, International Phonetic Association

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I have taught: General and Business English classes for: Alcan, Allianz Versicherung, Robert Bosch, Daimler-Benz, Ford, Hewlett Packard, Kodak, Mövenpick, Radiomobil (O2), Siemens, Unilever. TOEFL and FCE classes for: eská Spoitelna,SOB, Czech Ministry of Trade, Czech Statistics Office.

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