Usage Note: Traditionally, instead of is a preposition used like rather than, and the two constructions are often used interchangeably: We had spaghetti instead of (or rather than ) pizza. The constructions are frequently used with participles in comparisons in which the alternate entity is a main verb: Instead of (or rather than ) taking the bus, we walked to the theater. Rather than has a further use as a conjunction when the comparison is of one main verb with another: We took the bus rather than walk. In these constructions, instead of is sometimes used as well—something that, under the word's traditional categorization as a preposition, would seem a grammatical error. But in our 2005 survey, 63 percent of the Usage Panel allowed the sentence We would have liked to buy instead of rent, but prices were just too high. Writers should bear in mind, however, that this use of instead of is somewhat informal.