Can You Start a Sentence With “Rather”?

It is correct to start formal and informal sentences with “rather.” To start a sentence, the term “rather” usually means “instead.” E.g., “He is not a student. Rather, he is an engineer.” Or you can use it with “than,” e.g., “Rather than going to Spain, we went to Holland.”

The term “rather” is relatively formal. Therefore, it is more common at the start of a sentence in academic or formal writing than in everyday messaging.

You would use “rather” at the start of a sentence in two main ways.

The first is a continuation of the previous sentence. When you do this, you introduce a contrasting point or idea.

  • He did not lose the confidence of the party. Rather, they lost faith in his ability to perform.

The second is to use “rather” with the term “than” to signify one option over another.

  • Rather than suffer the humiliation of defeat, he preferred to surrender.

We have explained the basics of beginning sentences with the term “rather.” Now, keep reading to discover more about using “rather” in formal and informal writing.

We’ve also provided a list of synonym phrases to use instead of “rather” in formal sentences.

Can You Start a Sentence With “Rather” in Formal Writing?

You can start sentences with “rather” in formal writing. For example, it is common to use the term “rather than” in essays and academic writing.

The term “rather than” indicates one option has favor over another. In this context, there are infinite possibilities of what you could compare. However, it is always about comparing options, whether they be tangible or intangible.

  • Rather than providing accurate conclusions, the results created more confusion.
  • Rather than seeking assistance, she decided to attempt the task by herself.

It is also common for people to use “rather” to show contrast from the previous sentence. In this context, sometimes “rather” means “instead.”

  • He was not in the navy. Rather, he was in the army.

However, on other occasions, it can mean something similar to the term “in other words.”

  • The subjects all agreed to be part of the survey. Rather, they signed a consent form.

The word “rather” is an acceptable formal term with several meanings. However, if you want to mix up your language, you can use these alternatives terms:

  • In other words
  • Instead
  • Slightly
  • Somewhat

Can You Start a Sentence With “Rather” in Informal Writing?

You can start a sentence with “rather” in informal writing. However, it is quite a formal word, so people may not use it commonly in everyday messaging.

You will still see the term often in business emails of an informal nature. For example, to indicate preferences for different options, the term “rather than” is a popular way to start a sentence.

  • Rather than call a meeting, I thought I would send you an email.
  • Rather than helping the situation, it will only make it worse.

You could also use “rather” at the start of a sentence to mean “instead.” However, it is more likely that you would use “instead” or “but.”

  • I thought we were meeting today. Rather, I got it wrong, and it is tomorrow.
  • I thought we were meeting today. Instead, I got it wrong, and it is tomorrow.
  • I thought we were meeting today, but I got it wrong, and it is tomorrow.