English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I would like to correct what I see as a frequent mis-speak from a friend of mine, but I first want to make sure that I am not the one in error.

I'd like to know whether the following use is correct, or rather if it is incorrect.

The above sentence uses both the words "whether" and "rather" as I expect them to be used, but this friend says things like "Rather you like it or not..." or "Rather you're black, white or Asian..."

I wonder if this is just a regional usage, or is it incorrect as I suspect?

share|improve this question
To my knowledge, it seems that your friend is using the term incorrectly. This usage is not in accordance with any regional usage that I've heard. I think your suspicions that the person has misheard the term are well-founded. – Omnomnomnom May 13 '14 at 15:04
@Omnomnomnom, I'll discreetly show him the error of his ways. Thank you. – TecBrat May 13 '14 at 15:13
up vote 2 down vote accepted

'Whether' shows alternatives for example 'Whether it rains or not, we will go on a trip.' whereas 'Rather' shows preference for eg. 'I'd rather do this instead of that'. So the sentences you mentioned here should use 'whether' rather than 'rather'. :)

share|improve this answer

Rather shouldn't be used at the beginning of a sentence that way, but can be used this way:

I'd rather not do that.

share|improve this answer
There are plenty of sentences that begin with Rather. Just not this kind. :) – tchrist May 13 '14 at 3:57
@tchrist is correct. There are already questions and answers about using it at the beginning of a sentence. I'm asking about what I found to be a rather odd use where the context demands a different connotation than I am accustomed to. I suspect that this person has just mis-heard this his whole life, but I wanted to make sure I'm not mistaken before I say something. And, I thought it would make an interesting Q&A. – TecBrat May 13 '14 at 4:20

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.