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Please consider the sentences:

They do not overpower the city, but empower it instead.

They do not overpower the city, but instead empower it.

I'm doubting the use of but + instead. Is either incorrect syntactically? If not, which one reads better? NB: it is for an academic paper.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

They are both correct syntactically. In terms of style, the best sentence to use for your purpose is the one with instead in the end.

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+1 because they are both correct syntactically. The comment about style, though, is completely subjective. – slim Dec 23 '11 at 12:36
Note that if there were a long phrase replacing "empower it", you would definitely want to use "but instead ...". – Peter Shor Dec 23 '11 at 14:09
The instead is just an intensifier: "They do not overpower the city, but empower it." would work, as would "They do not overpower, but empower, the city." – JeffSahol Dec 23 '11 at 14:53

The first expression is correct by itself.
The second one would be correct with a comma:
...city, but instead, empower it.

In the second instance, you may see a slight difference of meaning or shift of emphasis. Syntactically they would be very different I suppose.

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The use of commas here would be a matter of style, not of syntax. – Irene Dec 23 '11 at 11:44

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