Prefer X to / rather than / instead of Y

I’m always very confused and I don’t know which one to use. Can someone explain the difference?

I prefer cold weather instead of/over/rather than hot weather.

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Hey Inda,

this is a really good question with a kind of simple answer. You can’t combine prefer and rather + than because they can both mean the same thing, so its redundant.

When comparing two things use prefer + to:

  • I prefer cold weather to hot weather.

Alternatively, though maybe not as common, you can say prefer + over:

  • I prefer cold weather over hot weather.

The only time you can’t use prefer + to is when comparing verbs. In those cases you can either rephrase the sentence or you can use rather + than:

  • I prefer to run to to swim. :no_good_woman:
  • I prefer running to/over swimming. :ok_woman:
  • I would rather run than swim. :ok_man:

Rather is its own thing and can be used on its own, and the preposition rather than means “instead of”. Here’s a dramatic dialogue with different examples:

  • I don’t love you anymore, it’s over!
  • No! I would rather die than live without you! (prefer)
  • I would rather you left me alone! (prefer)
  • How dare you!? I find that rather offensive, after all these years… (quite, very)
  • You should leave now rather than argue with me. (instead of)
  • Fine. You decide to be cold-hearted rather than save our marriage… (and not)

I hope this helps rather than confuses you. I have now written rather so many times it looks weird :joy: