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Subject: rather than
Question: Hello. I'm an English teacher in Iran. I found the following sentence in the novel ''Madame Bovary.'' ''In the market-place she met Lestiboudois on his way back. Rather than cut his day short, he chose to break off from his work and resume afterwards, thus ringing the Angelus to suit his own convenience.” Here is the question: In the sentence above, ''rather than'' means ''instead of'' , right? But, why the verb '' cut'' does not have '' ing'' ? I think the sentence should be ''''In the market-place she met Lestiboudois on his way back. Rather than CUTTING his day short, he chose to break off from his work and resume afterwards, thus ringing the Angelus to suit his own convenience.” What do you think? Do you agree with me? Please explain your reasons. I look forward to hearing from you. Best wishes
Reply: Hi, Farhad, I'm not sure I agree wholly with Dr. Sampson's interpretations. We all agree that both sentences would be grammatical. I think another way to approach the question is to recognize that 'rather than' often, as in the case you cite, takes a noun phrase complement; in the translation, that noun phrase is the infinitive phrase 'cut his day short', while in your suggested emendation would have the noun phrase introduced by the present participle: 'cutting his day short'. For me, the two versions would be nearly identical semantically, though I would tend to use the first one. But then, I'm an old fogey. Jim James L. Fidelholtz Graduate Program in Language Sciences Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades Benem'erita Universidad Aut'onoma de Puebla, M'EXICO
Reply From: James L Fidelholtz      click here to access email
 
Date: 15-Jul-2013
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: rather than    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (15-Jul-2013)
  2. Re: rather than    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (15-Jul-2013)
  3. Re: rather than    Herbert Frederic Stahlke     (15-Jul-2013)

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