Building Sentences That Support the Use of “Rather”
The adverb rather is useful for expressing a correction or counterpoint, but the word is often either incorrectly employed or is employed in a flawed sentence. The following sentences include an error directly or indirectly related to use of rather; discussion and revision demonstrate correct usage.
1. The Department of Justice isn’t as concerned with outright dismissal, but rather ensuring that the punishment fits the crime.
Here, the subordinate clause does not serve as a balanced counterpoint to the main clause. Either rather has to begin a separate independent clause that closely parallels the main clause (“The Department of Justice isn’t as concerned with outright dismissal; rather, its concern is with ensuring that the punishment fits the crime”), or rather must be jettisoned in favor of wording that better expresses a comparison (“The Department of Justice isn’t as concerned with outright dismissal as it is with ensuring that the punishment fits the crime.”)
2. Technology risk was not considered to be a separate discipline, rather as an integral part of operational risk or group risk.
For rather to be appropriate in this sentence, the initial point must be expressed positively; also, the comma is superfluous, and the incorrect conjunction that follows rather should be replaced: “Technology risk was considered to be a separate discipline rather than an integral part of operational risk or group risk.”
3. Banks are starting to recognize that the immediate threats to business may not be coming from one of their traditional competitors but rather from a technology giant or start-up.
Here, again, the use of rather itself is not an issue, but as in the previous example, the sentence is not structured correctly to support its use. As with sentences that use the “not only . . . but also” construction, the key verb coming must precede not just as it is implied to precede rather: “Banks are starting to recognize that the immediate threats to business may be coming not from one of their traditional competitors but rather from a technology giant or start-up.”
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