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I've sometimes heard people use rather for connecting two sentences where the second one sets counterexample to something negated in the first.

This is not a meaningful sentence. Rather, it's an example.

First, I would like to find out whether this is a proper usage of the word. Finally, if it is, I would like to find out how to properly write such sentences (the above example is likely grammatically incorrect). I am especially interested whether they can, or even should for that matter, be separated by a semicolon rather than by a period.

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Rather similar to Usage of “And” in the beginning of a sentence :-) –  user1579 May 13 '11 at 15:11
    
Indeed. Not the same, however. –  Phonon May 13 '11 at 15:16
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Indeed, which is why I haven't voted to close. Much of the same reasoning applies though, and the question I linked to doesn't show up in the "Related" box. –  user1579 May 13 '11 at 15:23
    
The semicolon version is also correct: This is not a meaningful sentence; rather, it's an example. –  WChargin Aug 8 '13 at 22:42
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Rather than focusing on grammaticality, which is not an issue, you should think of style.

The use of rather (with the meaning of “on the contrary”) as the first word of a sentence is well established. It is even featured in the example chosen by the New Oxford American Dictionary:

There is no shortage of basic skills in the workplace. Rather, the problem is poor management.

Hence, the main issue is that of writing style. Using rather as the first word in the sentence might tend to lead to shorter sentences; in this particular example, you could combine the two sentences into one. Depending on context, short sentences may make the writing clearer and closer to the spoken word, or seem excessively fragmented.

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Thank you. This is very helpful. –  Phonon May 13 '11 at 15:48
    
@F'x It may make the writing seem closer to the spoken word. In fact, spoken utterances more often consist of long chains of imperfect clauses, arbitrarily conjoined or improperly subjoined, than of brief, complete sentences. –  StoneyB Aug 19 '12 at 2:57
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