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# Rather than vs Instead of

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Senior Manager
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Hi Folks,
Recently I encountered a problem with using between Rather than vs instead of(problem from OG and I hit snag in one of the MGMAT test). So can anyone explain the difference in usage between -
Rather than

What I am looking is kinda more subtle difference, when you can use instead of and when you can use rather than.
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IMO in GMAT rather than is normally preferred. However there should be another reason in the answer choices to solve the problem. In other words the difference between rather than and instead of is not the main issue in the problem and you should be able to find other errors in the answer choices that make you pick the correct answer.

Regarding the difference between both idioms this is what I have in my notes.

Rather than can be follow by clauses whereas instead of should be only follow by nouns. According to this rule you could say

I live [in the mountains] rather than [in the city] correct
I live [in the mountains] instead of [in the city] Incorrect in the city is not a noun but rather a prepositional phrase

I think this is how GMAT treats the differences between these idioms. Other authorities say that you can use instead of with clauses. Perhaps an expert can bring some light on this issue
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Rather than shows a judgment. One choice is preferred over the other. It is better somehow.
Instead of merely expresses a replacement of one thing for another.

Example:
I would rather have ice cream than apple pie because I like ice cream better.
But if there weren't very much ice cream left, and I wanted to save some for tomorrow, I might have apple pie instead of ice cream tonight.
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IN GMAT RATHER THAN USED BETWEEN TWO VERBS(ACTIONS, PHRASES), INSTEAD OF USED BETWEEN TWO NOUNS. THIS IS WHAT IN GMAT I HAVE SEEN SO FAR. THE NORMAL ENGLISH USUAGE IS DIFFERENT. BUT NO DEFINITE HARD RULE, PLEASE POST THE SENTENCE , IT WOULD BE HELPFUL.
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In commercial garment construction, one advantage of serging over single-needle sewing is that the seam allowance is overcast as the seam is sewn instead of a separate process requiring deeper seam allowances.

B. rather than in
C. in contrast with
D. as opposed to
E. as against being done in

B. rather than in
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Rather than - shows preference. This expression is generally used in 'parallel' structures. e.g - with two nouns, adjectives, adverbs, infinitives or -ing forms.

e.g

1). We ought to invest in shares rather than Gold.
2). I prefer starting early rather than leaving things to the last minute.

When the main clause has a to - infinitive, rather than is usually followed by an infinitive without to or -ing form.

e.g - They have elected to write rather than phone/phoning.

Instead of - suggests that one person, thing or action replaces another. Instead is not used alone as a preposition; we use the two words instead of.
Instead of is not usually followed by an infinitive.

e.g

2). I stayed in bed all day instead of going to work.
3). Amit was invited to the reception, but he was ill, so Akash went instead of him.

Note - Instead (without of) is an adverb. It begins or ends a clause usually.

e.g - She didn't go to Greece after all. Instead , she went to America.

NOTE :
Usage --- instead of + noun phrase. Instead of is only a preposition and can introduce only a phrase i.e no verb
Usage --- rather than + verb (or) rather than + noun. Further rather than can act as a preposition and can introduce a prepositional phrase or can act as a conjunction and introduce a clause .....

P.S. I took idea from another forum post
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Expert's post
robertrdzak wrote:
In commercial garment construction, one advantage of serging over single-needle sewing is that the seam allowance is overcast as the seam is sewn instead of a separate process requiring deeper seam allowances.

B. rather than in
C. in contrast with
D. as opposed to
E. as against being done in

B. rather than in

Another reason why correct GMAT answers use "rather than" over "instead of" is the ability to use a preposition after "than" where you can't add a preposition after "of". You see in the example above you need that preposition "in" before "a separate process..." to maintain parallelism and proper meaning - "as the seam is sewn....in a separate process". Answer choice B correctly uses that construction.

The issue above along with the meaning points cited earlier explain why the GMAT has a strong, strong preference towards "rather than" on SC.

KW
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