How to Say ‘Instead of’ and ‘Instead’ in Spanish
Understanding how to use “instead of” and “instead” in Spanish is easier than you think. What’s more, after reading this article you will stop confusing “instead of” and “instead” in English! Yes, you’ve read it well! Two birds with one stone!
Today, I’ll show you that these two, so similarly looking “insteads” are as a matter of fact two completely different grammar words and for this reason, you have to use them differently.
I’ll show you the difference, and I’ll provide a collection of expressions that you can use to say “instead of” and “instead” in Spanish and will show you how to use them.
Let’s go straight off to the topic.
The Difference Between “Instead of” and “Instead”
Before we start talking about “instead of” and “instead” in Spanish, we need to understand what’s the difference between them in English.
First of all, as I said it earlier, these two words belong to two different grammar categories.
“Instead of” is a preposition and means “in place of” or “as an alternative.”
I’ll have hot chocolate instead of coffee.
“Instead,” without “of” also means “as an alternative” or “as a substitute or equivalent” but it’s an adverb.
I was going to call but sent a message instead.
If you’re not that sure about the difference between adverbs and prepositions, you might want to check out first Spanish Grammar for Beginners: The 8 Parts of Speech.
Now, after this quick review, let me show you “instead of” and “instead” in Spanish.
“Instead of” in Spanish
Remember that “instead of” is a preposition and for that reason, it must always be followed by another word—it does not stand alone. In English, it can be followed by a noun, pronoun, or gerund (verb +ing).
I’ll have a cake instead of ice cream. (noun)
I’ll do it instead of him. (pronoun)
Instead of explaining it to me, he did it alone. (gerund)
When we translate “instead of” to Spanish, it works in a similar way. You’ll translate it with a couple of Spanish prepositional phrases, which means, group of words that work together as a preposition.
These prepositional phrases also need to be followed by another word: a noun, name, or an infinitive.
Let’s have a look at some prepositional phrases that work as “instead of” in Spanish.
1. En lugar de
¿Por qué no me ayudas en lugar de estar tirado todo el día? (+ infinitive)
Why don’t you help me instead of lying around all day?
Alguien tendrá que hacer lo en lugar de Pedro, ahora que está enfermo. (+name)
Someone will have to do it instead of Pedro, now that he’s sick.
Yo puedo jugar en lugar de él, me sé las reglas. (+pronoun)
I can play instead of him. I know the rules.
¿Por qué no elegimos Stevia en lugar de azúcar? (+noun)
Why don’t we choose Stevia instead of sugar?
2. En vez de
¿Por qué no me ayudas en vez de quedarte ahí viendo? (+infinitive)
Why don’t you help me instead of just standing there watching?
Tenemos que utilizar el extintor en vez de las mantas. (+noun)
We need to use the fire extinguisher instead of the blankets.
¿Puedes hacerlo en vez de mí? (+pronoun)
Can you do it instead of me?
Prefiero ir con María en vez de Carmen. (+name)
I prefer to go with Maria instead of Carmen.
“Instead” in Spanish
Remember that “instead” is an adverb and can be used at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a clause. It means “as an alternative.” If it appears at the beginning or in the middle of the sentence it will be separated from the rest of it by commas.
In Spanish we translate it with the following expressions: en lugar de esto, en vez de esto, mejor, or en cambio. These expressions can also be put in different places in a sentence and you can treat them all as synonyms and choose the one you like best at a moment.
Let’s have a look at example sentences with the expressions you use to mean “instead” in Spanish.
1. En lugar de esto
Te pedí que salieras conmigo y, en lugar de esto, te quedaste aquí toda la noche viendo la tele.
I asked you to go out with me, and you stayed here watching TV all night instead.
Podemos ir a cenar y a caminar o nos podemos quedar en casa a ver nuestra serie en lugar de esto.
We can go for dinner and a walk or we can stay home and watch our series instead.
En lugar de esto, quieren que haga un pastel.
They want me to make a cake instead.
2. En vez de esto
Ojalá tuviéramos más días así en vez de esto.
I wish we had more days like this instead.
Recomiendo que en vez de esto, te compres lentes de verdad.
I recommend getting real glasses instead.
En vez de esto, podrías salir a conocer a alguien.
You could go out and meet someone instead.
Mejor veamos una película.
Do you want to have dinner?
Let’s watch a movie instead.
Me ofreciste vino, pero mejor tomaré agua.
You offered me wine, but I’ll have water instead.
4. En cambio
Esperaba sacar un 10 y en cambio, apenas saqué un 6.
I had expected to get a ten, ad instead, I barely got a 6.
Pensé que nadie se iba a acordar de mi cumple; en cambio, recibí miles de felicitaciones.
I thought no one would remember my birthday; instead, I got thousands of greetings.
Dejemos el pasado atrás y miremos en cambio el futuro que nos espera.
Let’s leave the past behind and look instead at the future that awaits us.
I’m sure that by now, you have already seen how easy it is to use “instead” in Spanish. Not only is the distinction between “instead of” and “instead” in Spanish uncomplicated, but all the Spanish equivalents are synonyms within each of these two groups.
If you feel like checking out if it’s really as easy as it looks, sign up for a free class and take your “instead” in Spanish to the next level. Practice “instead of” and “instead” in Spanish with one of our friendly and professional native Spanish.speaking teachers from Guatemala. Push your limits!
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