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"Rather Than" vs. "And Not"

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Can someone explain the difference in meaning between using the phrase "rather than" vs. "and not"? They both seem to mean the same thing, but there is a slight difference that I'm not getting. If you can illustrate the difference with a better example than below, I would appreciate it.

Here's a couple of examples in a sentence:

  • I want water to drink rather than soda.
    I want water to drink and not soda.
  • I will study rather than go out to play.
    I will study and not go out to play.

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Can someone explain the difference in meaning between using the phrase "rather than" vs. "and not"? They both seem to mean the same thing, but there is a slight difference that I'm not getting. If you can illustrate the difference with a better example than below, I would appreciate it.

Here's a couple of examples in a sentence:

  • I want water to drink rather than soda.
    I want water to drink and not soda.
  • I will study rather than go out to play.
    I will study and not go out to play.

"Rather", indicates a preference. eg. I would rather eat than starve. To use your first example of - I want water to drink and not soda, - it comes across as an exclusive decision. However, to say I would rather have water, indicates a preference, but does not excluded soda, as the above line indicates.

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Can someone explain the difference in meaning between using the phrase "rather than" vs. "and not"? They both seem to mean the same thing, but there is a slight difference that I'm not getting. If you can illustrate the difference with a better example than below, I would appreciate it.

Here's a couple of examples in a sentence:

  • I want water to drink rather than soda.
    I want water to drink and not soda.
  • I will study rather than go out to play.
    I will study and not go out to play.

"Rather", indicates a preference. eg. I would rather eat than starve. To use your first example of - I want water to drink and not soda, - it comes across as an exclusive decision. However, to say I would rather have water, indicates a preference, but does not excluded soda, as the above line indicates.

So then if I used "rather than" with something I wouldn't prefer under any circumstance (or at least the preference is completely exclusive), it would be wrong to use "rather than"? If I stated, "I want to travel to Italy rather than Iran," would be incorrect. It would be more accurate to state, "I want to travel to Italy and not Iran." Correct?

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Can someone explain the difference in meaning between using the phrase "rather than" vs. "and not"? They both seem to mean the same thing, but there is a slight difference that I'm not getting. If you can illustrate the difference with a better example than below, I would appreciate it.

Here's a couple of examples in a sentence:

  • I want water to drink rather than soda.
    I want water to drink and not soda.
  • I will study rather than go out to play.
    I will study and not go out to play.

"Rather", indicates a preference. eg. I would rather eat than starve. To use your first example of - I want water to drink and not soda, - it comes across as an exclusive decision. However, to say I would rather have water, indicates a preference, but does not excluded soda, as the above line indicates.

So then if I used "rather than" with something I wouldn't prefer under any circumstance (or at least the preference is completely exclusive), it would be wrong to use "rather than"? If I stated, "I want to travel to Italy rather than Iran," would be incorrect. It would be more accurate to state, "I want to travel to Italy and not Iran." Correct?

Correct. Arnold's explanation is spot on.

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So then if I used "rather than" with something I wouldn't prefer under any circumstance (or at least the preference is completely exclusive), it would be wrong to use "rather than"? If I stated, "I want to travel to Italy rather than Iran," would be incorrect. It would be more accurate to state, "I want to travel to Italy and not Iran." Correct?

Yes, but it's going to depend more on context. For example, if I was trying to be sarcastic I might say something like

"Well, sure, I don't like the French, but if push comes to shove I'd rather go to Paris than, say, Tehran."

Compare that with

"Well, sure, I don't like the French, but if push comes to shove I'd want to go to Paris and not, say, Tehran."

Same essential meaning, but the first is stronger in the context of a sarcastic remark because "rather" does a better job of playing off a moral distinction against a mere personal preference.

The difference in meaning is subtle, and which to use will depend on precisely what you're trying to convey.

(Is it weird that my mind always goes through that kind of thinking even as I'm speaking? I often change wording decisions in mid-sentence, without a noticeable pause.)

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So then if I used "rather than" with something I wouldn't prefer under any circumstance (or at least the preference is completely exclusive), it would be wrong to use "rather than"? If I stated, "I want to travel to Italy rather than Iran," would be incorrect. It would be more accurate to state, "I want to travel to Italy and not Iran." Correct?

Yes, but it's going to depend more on context. For example, if I was trying to be sarcastic I might say something like

"Well, sure, I don't like the French, but if push comes to shove I'd rather go to Paris than, say, Tehran."

Compare that with

"Well, sure, I don't like the French, but if push comes to shove I'd want to go to Paris and not, say, Tehran."

Same essential meaning, but the first is stronger in the context of a sarcastic remark because "rather" does a better job of playing off a moral distinction against a mere personal preference.

The difference in meaning is subtle, and which to use will depend on precisely what you're trying to convey.

(Is it weird that my mind always goes through that kind of thinking even as I'm speaking? I often change wording decisions in mid-sentence, without a noticeable pause.)

Piz, I think your example of sarcasm is based on the very distinction that Arnold made. By using the phrase that indicates it's a personal preference, your implying it's NOT merely a personal preference.

I'm sure you know this so don't think I'm being patronizing, but I want to add that sarcasm is a hard art to perfect - one that often plays off of the common usage of words and phrases. It's essential to know (at least implicitly) the common usage to make sarcasm funny.

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Can someone explain the difference in meaning between using the phrase "rather than" vs. "and not"? They both seem to mean the same thing, but there is a slight difference that I'm not getting. If you can illustrate the difference with a better example than below, I would appreciate it.

Here's a couple of examples in a sentence:

  • I want water to drink rather than soda.
    I want water to drink and not soda.
  • I will study rather than go out to play.
    I will study and not go out to play.

"Rather", indicates a preference. eg. I would rather eat than starve. To use your first example of - I want water to drink and not soda, - it comes across as an exclusive decision. However, to say I would rather have water, indicates a preference, but does not excluded soda, as the above line indicates.

So then if I used "rather than" with something I wouldn't prefer under any circumstance (or at least the preference is completely exclusive), it would be wrong to use "rather than"? If I stated, "I want to travel to Italy rather than Iran," would be incorrect. It would be more accurate to state, "I want to travel to Italy and not Iran." Correct?

Correct. This is because "rather" implies you you haven't excluded Iran, you just don't prefer it.

Here is an example where France is not excluded, and Iran is: I would rather travel to Italy than France, but not (ever) to Iran.

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