When do we use rather in English?

A) We use rather as an adverb of degree:

Modifying an adjective:

  • The film was rather good.

Modifying an adverb:

  • It happened rather quickly.


  1. It is stronger than fairly, but not as strong as very.
  2. It can modify a noun, often coming before the article:
  3. It's rather a problem.
  4. It can modify some verbs: I rather like it.

B) To express preference

Rather than:

Rather than is normally used to compare parallel structures:

  • Let's take the train rather than the bus.
  • Rather you than me!
  • I decided to write rather than email.

Would rather:

Would rather + infinitive without 'to':

  • I'd rather leave now.

Would rather + pronoun + past tense:

  • I'd rather he came early.

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