He preferred to die ------.

a) than to be punished

b) rather than be insulted

c) than be insulted

d) rather than to punished

This is quite perplexing, as both A and C feel correct to me. I googled and found sentences with both structure. Is there a grammatically correct or incorrect structure between them?

  • Why is there alternation between "punished" and "insulted" is that part of the original question? – James K Aug 2 '19 at 17:26
  • 1
    is (d) a typo, or is it really missing the word be? If (d) really does read rather than to punished, it is definitely wrong. – jimbobmcgee Aug 2 '19 at 17:27
  • @JamesK I copied it verbatim from online. I decided not to change them as both make sense. Should I edit them into same word? – eefar Aug 2 '19 at 17:35
  • @jimbobmcgee I am not sure, – eefar Aug 2 '19 at 17:35
  • No. Leave the question exactly as posed. .... Your title doesn't seem to match the body. Are you asking about the use of "rather" in (b) or the use of "to" in (a) – James K Aug 2 '19 at 17:44

I see the Count of Monte Christo's fingers all over this question.

I think most people would use "...rather than..." in modern English. In the slightly old fashioned English of the Count, the word "rather" is omitted.

d) is clearly wrong (missing the verb "be")

a) b) and c) are acceptable on grounds of grammar. But I think the choice in the book was between death and prison, hence (a) is probably the answer that the test writer wants.

Also, while you may face the choice of "death or prison", and choose death. Who ever has to choose between "death or insults", and chooses death? However this question is not a test of grammar, but of knowledge of the book and common sense.

a) and c) differ in the omission of "to", but this is allowed as the verbs are parallel. We can omit the word "to" as it would be repeated in "to die" and "to be insulted".

| improve this answer | |
  • Even If this question has any association with literary works, judging from where I found it I am fairly certain this is to test a person's grammatical knowledge. – eefar Aug 2 '19 at 18:52
  • If it is purely a grammar test, then all of a) b) and c) are correct English grammar. – James K Aug 2 '19 at 19:02
  • Maybe the "to die" in the front part of the sentence requires "to be" in the latter part? – puppetsock Aug 2 '19 at 19:06
  • No, because of the parallel structure "He preferred to die than be punished" would also be correct. – James K Aug 2 '19 at 19:07
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    yes.____________ – James K Aug 2 '19 at 19:12

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