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meaning of "rather" Options
Nousher Ahmed 1
Posted: Thursday, April 06, 2017 5:03:39 AM

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1. The train was rather too crowded for a comfortable journey.

too is enough to convey that the train was not suitable for a comfortable journey. Please correct me if I'm wrong. I cannot understand the function of rather here. Please rewrite or explain it so that I can understand it perfectly.

2. She'll fly to California on Thursday, or rather, she will if she has to.

The part written in blod doesn't make any sense to me.

3. He's my sister's friend really, rather than mine.

This bold part creates same problem as the bold part of 2 does.

4. The ending of the war is not a cause for celebration, but rather for regret that it ever happened.

What would happen if I ommit even from this sentence. even has certain functions to this sentence, which I don't know. I would like to learn it.

5. I've got rather a lot of work to do at the moment.

a lot of work means he had a great amount of work to do. But what does rather mean here?

All these sentences are from this link.

Thanks in advance!
Romany
Posted: Thursday, April 06, 2017 6:45:17 AM
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There are two different meanings of "rather" in the sentences you supply.

In all forms of English 'rather' is used to mean 'prefer' i.e.

"Would you like to go to the beach or walk in the woods?" "I'd rather go to the beach." (I'd prefer to go to the beach)
"I would rather die than marry that man!" (I'd prefer death to marrying him)

But in BE and most Commonwealth English 'rather' is used to qualify (or soften) a noun, to avoid making a direct statement, to avoid contradiction. This has nothing to do with Grammar - but it is cultural.

Where an American might say "Wow! It was fantastic! It was mind-blowing." about, say a movie; an English/Aussie etc. person might say instead "It was rather good."

This can be 'rather' confusing to learners; so using 'rather' in this way might not be comfortable.

But using 'rather' to mean 'prefer' is common usage and worth learning.
TMe
Posted: Thursday, April 06, 2017 11:59:54 AM

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Excellent explanation, Romany. Applause Applause

Deliberate practice of one hour is worth ten hours of normal practice.
Romany
Posted: Thursday, April 06, 2017 2:54:05 PM
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Why, thank you TMe
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, April 06, 2017 4:18:57 PM

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Rather!
Whistle

(That is another usage. On its own, without a sentence, it means "Yes! I agree."


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Romany
Posted: Friday, April 07, 2017 4:53:24 AM
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Thanks, Billy Bunter! Spiffing endorsement.
srirr
Posted: Friday, April 07, 2017 5:15:16 AM

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Romany wrote:

There are two different meanings of "rather" in the sentences you supply.

In all forms of English 'rather' is used to mean 'prefer' i.e.

"Would you like to go to the beach or walk in the woods?" "I'd rather go to the beach." (I'd prefer to go to the beach)
"I would rather die than marry that man!" (I'd prefer death to marrying him)

... using 'rather' to mean 'prefer' is common usage and worth learning.


I rather feel that 'rather' has a sense of 'on the other hand'. It may not necessarily show the preference.


We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. ~ Swami Vivekanand
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Friday, April 07, 2017 5:22:21 AM

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As Rom explained, rather can work as a mitigator. TFD Grammar:

Mitigators, a subset of adverbs of degree, are adverbs or adverbials (groups of words that function as adverbs) that modify adjectives and adverbs to reduce their intensity, making them seem less extreme or powerful. The following are all examples of mitigators:

rather
pretty
slightly
fairly
a bit
a little bit
just a bit
just a little bit
a little

Here are some examples of mitigators being used in sentences:
“The movie was rather dull.”
“He thought that the parade was just a bit too long.”
“The runner performed fairly well, but not well enough to win the race.”
“The sky was slightly red and orange at the time of the sunset.”
“They were all a little annoyed that the fair had been cancelled due to rain.”
“The cake was pretty good, but not excellent.”
“I can jump pretty high for my height.”


Opposite to mitigators are intensifiers.


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
Romany
Posted: Friday, April 07, 2017 5:27:17 AM
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Hey, Srirr -

It depends on how it's used: in the sentences I provided I don't think it shows that: it's simply a matter of stating one's preference?

In a sentence such as "I'll come with you - but I'd rather be doing something else." the meaning you ascribe could be attached rather.
TMe
Posted: Saturday, April 08, 2017 11:15:29 AM

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Can the word 'rather' be used to convey 'in fact' as the 'the train was rather overcrowded'.

Driving in Bangladesh is rather risky.

Deliberate practice of one hour is worth ten hours of normal practice.
thar
Posted: Saturday, April 08, 2017 12:44:04 PM

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In those examples it acts as an intensifier.

Rather risky means very risky, but in a British deprecating, understated, never-be-dramatic way. Whistle


Alternatives would be 'a bit', 'quite', 'somewhat' - but they can emphasise the noun, not lessen it.
It can be a mitigator or the opposite of a mitigator. It depends on the context and tone of voice. It is that cultural thing of understating everything.




Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Saturday, April 08, 2017 5:45:59 PM

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thar wrote:
but in a British deprecating, understated, never-be-dramatic way. Whistle

I say, old chap, I hate to seem argumentative, but that's rather overstated, don't you think?

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Morgaen
Posted: Saturday, April 08, 2017 8:35:44 PM

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I thought I'd just throw this into the pot as well (and a rather nice pot I should say):

The rather lambes bene starved with cold
[Spenser, "The Shepheardes Calender" (Februarie), 1579]

Seemingly, 'rather' lambs were those born early [or 'earlier'] in the year.

The French word plutôt seems to function quite similarly in fact.

plutôt
> plutôt as in instead, preferably, more readily or willingly, etc (Je prendrais plutôt un café / I'd rather have a coffee (Plutôt mourir !/ I'd rather die!)
> plutôt as in somewhat, to a degree, pretty, quite, and so forth (c'est plutôt agréable / it's rather pleasant)

And yes, both plutôt and rather can also be used in the sense of 'in fact', 'more precisely', 'more correctly speaking', 'on the contrary', and all those nuances.

As for the interjection "Rather!" i.e. to express affirmation, agreement, etc, plutôt is not exactly the same but quite close, e.g.: This woman is mad! — plutôt oui!

The only one I didn't find on planet Plutôt is the use of rather in 'Rather you than me!' (I'm going to the dentist tomorrow. - Rather you than me!)

So, back to our little lambs (revenons à nos moutons ;), it appears that there is indeed a notion of time:

Etymology for 'plutôt': plus tôt > plus tost> i.e. earlier, sooner, more quickly

and for rather:
Old English hraþor "more quickly, earlier, sooner," also "more readily,"
(I think one dude traced it up to the Greek)

...because whatever we'd rather do, we do it (more) speedily! (hmm although..Think ]
Romany
Posted: Sunday, April 09, 2017 6:15:39 AM
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Morgaen -

Thanks for that. I hadn't made that transition to the French, but once I read your post I realised the connection. It had honestly never occurred to me before that the French word could indeed play the role of 'rather'. I guess because 'rather' is such a quintessential English word! But as soon as I read your post it seemed so obvious.

Interesting stuff.
thar
Posted: Sunday, April 09, 2017 7:11:01 AM

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There's a direct connection in the preference meaning:

I'd sooner do this than that
I'd rather do this than that.


Interesting digression of meaning. I don't know what it has become in German or Dutch, but in Icelandic, hraða is to speed or accelerate.
hraði is speed, haste, rush
hraður is quick. hratt is quickly.

A speed bump is hraðahindrun (rather-hindrance) Whistle


It is clearly cognate with Old English hræd ( hrædra, hrædost) - quick. hasty; hræþe - soon; hraþor -sooner.


What role the use of plutôt in French, or rata from Latin might have had on it is interesting.


As for its role as a mitigator, intensifier. Maybe something parallel to 'fast'? That started off meaning immovable, strong, - a strong runner, a fast runner.

Maybe something similiar with hraðar- faster, more! ?Think
No source seems to say which it started as, (less or more), and the opposite was meant to be sarcastic - or whether it could always mean both.
Morgaen
Posted: Sunday, April 09, 2017 7:01:01 PM

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Glad to hear, Romany, and thar, thanks for this Icelandic addition.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Sunday, April 09, 2017 7:38:43 PM

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This whole thread is rather amazing.

Connecting so many languages together - particularly the totally different French word with all the same usages!
And of course hraður.

I'm glad you added your location Morgaen - I was wondering (your answers didn't sound really English, but definitely not American either).
I should have thought of The Morrigan, shouldn't I?


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Morgaen
Posted: Monday, April 10, 2017 7:23:45 PM

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I s'ppose, yes, Drag0nspeaker (any shorter form of your pen name? it's rather long). The Morrigan is a bit of a dark horse, isn't she though.

Anyway, I must confess: half of that location is not true (sorry for lying, TFD).

I wanted to change because US was there by default. Then I thought, hold on, I'm not so keen to reveal where I actually live. Maybe I'm paranoid, but anyways, I put in the correct country, but not my town. I wanted to add Magh Meall, or Mag Mell - the plain of delights, plain of joy or plain of honey. Unfortunately, the system wanted a "real" place. So I chose the next best thing - Knock.
Knock, Knock, Who's There? - Not me ;)

It's silly, I know.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, April 10, 2017 7:40:50 PM

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Well . . .
Before they changed the system and made it difficult, I had Tír na nÓg as my abode.
But I'm not so young any more.

Usually, I'm just called "drag0" or "drag". Rather boring - bit of a drag actually.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Morgaen
Posted: Tuesday, April 11, 2017 6:55:31 PM

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Ah thanks for that, drag0.
Tír na nÓg was my first choice too, as it happens. It's only after trying Magh Meall that I realized accented characters weren't the issue at all.
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