Tell me please which one of the following sentences is the most correct and natural.

I prefer to read books rather than listening to them.

I prefer to read books rather than listen to them.

I prefer to read books rather than to listen them.

If all are natural, than which one is more common?


Short answer:

Number 1 is "kind of" correct.

Number 2 is grammatically correct.

Number 3 is absolutely false.

Long answer:

it's grammatical to use simple form of the verb or the ing form of the verb after "rather than" -it's ungrammatical to use an infinitive (to+verb) after it.

so with that in mind, number 3 is definitely incorrect and one and two are correct. between one and two I would say number 2 is better because it respects "parallelism"; the two expressions on each side of "than" have the same form (they're both base form), English favors parallelism.

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