Can You Start A Sentence With “Rather”? Learn It Here! (With Examples)

When we’re learning English, we’re constantly taught myths, such as some words being impossible to start a sentence with. Starting a sentence with rather is one such myth, where some believe it’s not possible. This article will explain how you can do it.

Can You Start A Sentence With “Rather”?

You can start a sentence with “rather” when you use it to present an opposing idea from the previous sentence. It’s also possible to start a sentence with “rather” when you want to compare two opposite ideas within the same sentence.

Can You Start A Sentence With "Rather"?

There are no grammatical issues with starting a sentence with “rather.” If it makes sense for the tone of the sentence, then there’s no reason why you can’t use it in this way.

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What Does “Rather” Mean At The Beginning Of A Sentence?

When used at the beginning of a sentence, “rather” means “on the contrary” or “opposite to the previous statement.” We use it to break up our writing to show that there is an opposing view or opinion to the one we previously stated.

Examples Of How To Use “Rather” At The Beginning Of A Sentence

There are a few key ways we can start a sentence with “rather.” To help you understand the differences between them all, we’ll include different sections and examples for each one.

Opposite To The Previous Sentence

First, we’ll look at when “rather” is opposing the view or idea in the previous sentence.

  1. She had no desire to learn more about her family history. Rather, she would watch films all day.
  2. He had no interest in anything I presented to him. Rather, he wanted to be left to his own devices, which I find incredibly dull!
  3. She wasn’t sure whether she wanted to eat out. Rather, she would have liked him to cook a meal for her.

In this way, “rather” works to present an opposite view or idea from the previous sentence. In this case, we always need a comma after “rather” when introducing the idea.

Presenting Two Opposites In The Same Sentence

The next way we can use “rather” is by combining the opposite opinions or views into one sentence.

  1. Rather you than me when it comes to that! I’d hate to go through that!
  2. Rather this meal than the one they’ve got over at that table!
  3. Rather you didn’t do that, but I supposed I couldn’t stop you.

“Rather” in this way combines elements from the previous section. We use it to include two opposites at the same time, allowing us to demonstrate one thing we would prefer to do over another.

Exclamation

The last way is rare, but you’ll see it every now and then. It’s most common to use “rather” as a remark or exclamation in British English.

  1. Rather lovely weather we’re having, isn’t it!
  2. Rather!
  3. Rather a nice day!

“Rather” here means that something is true or happens to a great degree. We can also use it as a single-word response or exclamation to show that we thoroughly agree with someone’s viewpoint.

Is There A Comma After “Rather” At The Beginning Of A Sentence?

The punctuation rules with “rather” don’t have to be complicated. If you noticed, in most of the examples above, we barely had to punctuate it at all. There is only one case where we start a sentence with rather and a comma.

You only need to place a comma directly after “rather” when it’s used to oppose the view or idea in the previous sentence. Other than that, there is no need to include a comma after “rather” as it continues on with an opposing thought.

  • I didn’t want to go down this path. Rather, I would have liked my nice cozy bed at home.

You might also like: Comma Before “Rather”: Here’s The Golden Rule + 26 Examples

Can You Start A Sentence With “Rather Than”?

You can start a sentence with “rather than” when you want to show a preference or something that you’d prefer to do. Usually, we say “rather than” at the start of a sentence when trying to get someone to do something else.

  1. Rather than wasting time worrying about her, why don’t you give her a call to find out if she’s okay?
  2. Rather than beating yourself up, why don’t you put on a nice outfit and come out tonight?
  3. Rather than being a downer, you should pick yourself up and have some fun!

We use it in this way to introduce a preference or different idea.

Can You Start A Sentence With “Or Rather”?

You can start a sentence with “or rather,” though it’s rare to do so when you want to introduce a secondary view that’s better than the first. Generally, we’d use a comma before “or,” but a period might work to start a new sentence.

  • We could go to the movies tonight, or rather stay at home if you’d prefer that?
  • We could go to the movies tonight. Or rather stay at home if you’d prefer that?

Both of these examples are correct, and you can use either one. It’s more common to use the comma, but it is still possible to start a sentence with “or rather.”

Can You Start A Question With “Rather”?

It is not possible to start a question with “rather” because we need to ask someone whether they’d prefer something over something else. Instead, we must use “would you rather” or “do you rather” to direct the question toward them.

Alternatives To Starting A Sentence With “Rather”

If you’re not comfortable with starting a sentence with “rather,” perhaps one of these alternatives will be better suited to what you’re trying to achieve.

  • I would prefer
  • I would rather
  • I would like
  • I would be happy to
  • On the contrary
  • In contrast
  • Opposing that
  • On the other hand

We can use these synonyms to show a preference or contrast the previous view, depending on which one works best in your context.

Can You End A Sentence With “Rather”?

You cannot end a sentence with “rather” because we need a verb to accompany it when it’s at the end of a sentence. We use it to ask for a preference from somebody, but without a verb to emphasize the preference, it does not work.

  • Correct: Which one would you rather have?
  • Incorrect: Which one would you rather?
  • Correct: Let me know when you’ve decided what you’d rather do.
  • Incorrect: Let me know when you’ve decided what you’d rather.