0

I don't know if "rather than to" is correct or if there is a better turn of phrase:

Note that our aim is to show [...] rather than to run [...]

  • 1
    Sounds fine in this context. It would also work like this "our aim is showing rather than running". – Mitch Jul 1 '13 at 20:21
  • 1
    post an answer if you want. (even tho I don't think I like the form "our aim is showing..") – dynamic Jul 1 '13 at 20:40
6

I can't begin to guess what it is about the basic structure X rather than Y that bothers OP, so all I can say there is it's perfectly normal English, in both spoken and written contexts.

The only other thing I'd add is that stylistically most speakers/writers would elide the second to...

to show rather than tell (8220 hits in Google Books)
to show rather than to tell (1060 hits)

  • to show rather than run sounds better! – dynamic Jul 1 '13 at 22:13
  • @yes123: I think so too, and I did rather expect GB would show some bias in favour of dropping the second to (that's why I checked it out in the first place). But I was surprised to see how strong the bias is - an 8:1 split seems quite extreme for what's really a fairly trivial stylistic choice. But it's interesting to check include/exclude to with other pairs of words, such as live/die, walk/run, work/play, etc. I can't really explain why the preference varies so wildly, but it's always in favour of the elision. I doubt it's completely without significance though. – FumbleFingers Jul 2 '13 at 0:59
2

As FumbleFingers says, expressions of the form "our aim is to show...rather than to run..." are common in English.

There are, however, a number of alternatives to "X rather than Y" that are likewise common in everyday English, including these:

X instead of Y [["I want mashed potatoes instead of french fries."]]

X, not Y [["I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him."]]

more for X than for Y [["Our website is geared more toward Conan the Barbarian obsessives than toward garden-variety fans of sword-and-sorcery fantasy."]]

The formulations "X rather than Y," "X instead of Y," and "X, not Y" have in common the idea of identifying or advancing one thing in place of another. To my ear, "X in place of Y" strongly implies a swapping out of choice Y in favor of choice X. "X rather than Y" expresses much the same type of preference as "X instead of Y," but it seems to me a little less clearly focused on a one-for-one replacement. For its part, "X, not Y" is the most abrupt and the most emphatic in asserting that choice X entails the exclusion of choice Y.

The "more for X than for Y" differs from the other three in promoting X in preference to Y without doing so to the exclusion of Y.

So depending on the kind of relationship you mean to establish between "showing" and "running" as possible aims in the original example, you may find that a preferential description works better than a "this in place of that" description.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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