How Do You Say “Instead Of” In French?

Learning a new language can be a challenging yet rewarding experience, especially when it comes to French. The French language is known for its elegance and sophistication, making it a popular choice for those who want to broaden their linguistic horizons. One common question that arises when learning French is how to say “instead of”.

The French translation for “instead of” is “au lieu de”. This phrase is commonly used in French to express a substitution or replacement of one thing for another.

How Do You Pronounce The French Word For “Instead Of”?

Learning to properly pronounce French words can be a daunting task, especially for those who are not fluent in the language. However, with a little guidance and practice, anyone can master the pronunciation of the French word for “instead of,” which is “au lieu de.”

Phonetic Breakdown: In order to properly pronounce “au lieu de,” it’s important to first understand its phonetic breakdown. The word is pronounced as follows: oh lyeu duh, with the emphasis on the second syllable.

Tips for Pronunciation: Here are a few tips to help you improve your pronunciation of “au lieu de:”

  1. Listen to native French speakers pronounce the word. This will give you a better understanding of the proper pronunciation and help you develop a feel for the rhythm and flow of the language.
  2. Practice the word slowly and deliberately, paying close attention to each syllable and the way they are pronounced.
  3. Use a French pronunciation guide, such as the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), to help you better understand the sounds of the language.
  4. Practice speaking French regularly, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. This will help you develop your ear for the language and improve your pronunciation over time.

With a little practice and patience, anyone can learn to properly pronounce the French word for “instead of.” So why not give it a try? You might be surprised at how quickly you can improve your pronunciation and start speaking French like a native!

Proper Grammatical Use Of The French Word For “Instead Of”

Proper grammar is essential when using the French word for “instead of.” Failing to use it correctly can make your sentences sound awkward or confusing.

Placement Of The French Word For “Instead Of” In Sentences

The French word for “instead of” is “au lieu de.” It is generally placed before the noun or pronoun that it refers to. For example:

  • Je vais manger une salade au lieu de la viande. (I am going to eat a salad instead of meat.)
  • Elle a choisi d’aller à la plage au lieu de rester à la maison. (She chose to go to the beach instead of staying at home.)

However, if the sentence is in the negative form, “au lieu de” is placed after the verb:

  • Je ne vais pas manger de viande, au lieu de ça je vais manger une salade. (I am not going to eat meat, instead I am going to eat a salad.)

Verb Conjugations Or Tenses

The verb conjugation and tense used in the sentence will depend on the context. For example:

  • Je vais étudier le français au lieu de regarder la télévision. (I am going to study French instead of watching TV.)
  • Je regrette de ne pas avoir étudié le français au lieu de regarder la télévision. (I regret not having studied French instead of watching TV.)

Agreement With Gender And Number

The French word for “instead of” does not change to agree with gender or number. It remains “au lieu de” in all cases.

Common Exceptions

There are no common exceptions to the proper use of the French word for “instead of.” However, it is important to note that the word “au lieu de” can be replaced with other expressions that have a similar meaning, such as “à la place de” or “plutôt que.”

Examples Of Phrases Using The French Word For “Instead Of”

When speaking French, it’s important to know how to use the word “instead of” in various contexts. Here are some common phrases that include the French word for “instead of” and how to use them in sentences.

1. Au Lieu De

The most common French phrase for “instead of” is “au lieu de.” This phrase is used to indicate a substitution or replacement.


  • Je vais manger une salade au lieu de manger des frites. (I’m going to eat a salad instead of eating fries.)

Here’s another example:

  • Je vais prendre le bus au lieu de prendre le métro. (I’m going to take the bus instead of taking the subway.)

2. À La Place De

The phrase “à la place de” is also used to mean “instead of.” This phrase is often used in formal situations.


  • À la place de vous, je prendrais un taxi. (Instead of you, I would take a taxi.)

Here’s another example:

  • À la place de partir en vacances, j’ai décidé de travailler cet été. (Instead of going on vacation, I’ve decided to work this summer.)

3. En Lieu Et Place De

“En lieu et place de” is a more formal phrase that can be used to mean “instead of.” This phrase is often used in legal or official documents.


  • En lieu et place de Monsieur Dupont, Madame Martin sera présente à la réunion. (Instead of Mr. Dupont, Mrs. Martin will be present at the meeting.)

Example French Dialogue:

Here’s an example conversation in French that uses the word “au lieu de” (instead of):

  • Marie: Qu’est-ce que tu vas manger ce soir? (What are you going to eat tonight?)
  • Paul: Je vais manger une salade au lieu de manger des pâtes. (I’m going to eat a salad instead of eating pasta.)


  • Marie: What are you going to eat tonight?
  • Paul: I’m going to eat a salad instead of eating pasta.

More Contextual Uses Of The French Word For “Instead Of”

Understanding the contextual uses of the French word for “instead of” is crucial for mastering the language. From formal to informal, slang to idiomatic expressions, and cultural/historical to popular cultural usage, the French language has a wide range of contexts where “instead of” can be used. In this article, we will delve deeper into these contexts and explore the various ways this word can be used.

Formal Usage

In formal French, “instead of” is often translated as “au lieu de” or “plutôt que.” These expressions are commonly used in academic or professional settings and are considered appropriate for formal writing or speeches. For example:

  • “Au lieu de prendre le train, nous avons décidé de prendre l’avion.” (Instead of taking the train, we decided to take the plane.)
  • “Plutôt que de dépenser de l’argent inutilement, nous avons décidé d’économiser.” (Instead of spending money unnecessarily, we decided to save.)

Informal Usage

Informal French often uses “au lieu de” or “plutôt que” as well, but it is more common to use “à la place de” or “à la rigueur” in everyday language. These expressions are considered less formal and are commonly used in casual conversations. For example:

  • “À la place de sortir ce soir, on pourrait regarder un film à la maison.” (Instead of going out tonight, we could watch a movie at home.)
  • “À la rigueur, on pourrait manger des pâtes à la place de la viande.” (If need be, we could eat pasta instead of meat.)

Other Contexts

Besides formal and informal usage, “instead of” can also be used in a variety of other contexts in French. For instance, it can be used in slang expressions or idiomatic phrases, such as “à la place du mort” (instead of the dead person) or “au lieu de ruminer” (instead of brooding). Additionally, cultural or historical contexts may use different expressions for “instead of,” such as “faute de mieux” (for lack of something better) or “en lieu et place de” (in place of).

Popular Cultural Usage

In popular culture, “instead of” can be found in a variety of contexts, such as movies, TV shows, or music. For instance, in the famous French song “Comme d’habitude” by Claude François, the lyrics include the line “Au lieu de dire je t’aime” (instead of saying I love you). This line has become a popular cultural expression in France, often used to describe situations where actions speak louder than words.

Regional Variations Of The French Word For “Instead Of”

As with any language, regional variations are present in French, including the word for “instead of.” While the basic concept remains the same, the word used to express it can differ depending on the French-speaking country or region.

Usage In Different French-speaking Countries

In France, the most commonly used word for “instead of” is “au lieu de.” In Quebec, Canada, the word “plutôt que” is more commonly used. In Switzerland, both “au lieu de” and “à la place de” are used interchangeably. In other French-speaking countries such as Belgium, Luxembourg, and parts of Africa, the word “à la place de” is also commonly used.

It is important to note that while these variations exist, they are all considered correct and can be used interchangeably in most situations.

Regional Pronunciations

In addition to variations in the actual word used, there are also differences in pronunciation depending on the region. For example, in France, the “u” in “au lieu de” is pronounced like the “oo” in “food,” while in Quebec, it is pronounced more like the “u” in “put.”

Similarly, the “r” sound in “plutôt que” is pronounced differently in Quebec than it is in France. In Quebec, it is often pronounced with a more guttural sound, while in France, it is softer and more rolled.

Overall, while there are regional variations in the French word for “instead of,” these differences are minor and can easily be understood and adapted to by French learners and speakers alike.

Other Uses Of The French Word For “Instead Of” In Speaking & Writing

While the French word for “instead of” – “au lieu de” – is commonly used to express substitution, it can also have other meanings depending on the context.

Distinguishing Between Different Uses

Here are some common uses of “au lieu de” and how to distinguish between them:

  • Substitution: This is the most common use of “au lieu de.” It is used to express that one thing is being replaced by another. For example, “J’ai mangé une pomme au lieu d’un sandwich” means “I ate an apple instead of a sandwich.”
  • Location: “Au lieu de” can also be used to express a location. For example, “Il habite au lieu de travail” means “He lives at the workplace.”
  • Contrast: In some cases, “au lieu de” can be used to express a contrast between two things. For example, “Au lieu de pleurer, elle a souri” means “Instead of crying, she smiled.”
  • Time: “Au lieu de” can also be used to express a time frame. For example, “Au lieu de l’été, il préfère l’hiver” means “Instead of summer, he prefers winter.”

It is important to pay attention to the context in which “au lieu de” is being used in order to determine its meaning. By understanding the different uses of this phrase, you can use it correctly and effectively in your speaking and writing.

Common Words And Phrases Similar To The French Word For “Instead Of”

Synonyms And Related Terms

When looking for alternative ways to express “instead of” in French, there are a few terms that can be used interchangeably. These include:

  • À la place de – This phrase directly translates to “in the place of” and is commonly used in French to mean “instead of.”
  • Au lieu de – Another popular way to say “instead of” in French, this phrase can be literally translated to “in place of.”
  • Plutôt que – This phrase means “rather than” and is commonly used in French to express a preference for one option over another.

These terms can be used in a variety of situations, but generally, they are used to indicate that one thing is being substituted for another.


When it comes to antonyms, or words that have the opposite meaning of “instead of,” there are a few terms that are commonly used in French. These include:

  • À la fois – This phrase can be translated to “at the same time” and is used to indicate that two things are happening simultaneously.
  • En plus de – This phrase means “in addition to” and is used to indicate that something is being added to an existing situation, rather than replacing it.
  • Non pas – This phrase means “not instead” and is used to indicate that something is not being substituted for another thing.

It’s important to note that while these terms are antonyms of “instead of,” they are not always used in direct opposition to the original phrase. Instead, they are used to express different ideas or concepts.

Mistakes To Avoid When Using The French Word For “Instead Of”

Many non-native speakers of French struggle with using the correct word for “instead of.” This is because there are several options in the French language that can be used depending on the context. Some common mistakes made by non-native speakers include:

  • Using “au lieu de” in all situations
  • Mixing up “plutôt que” and “à la place de”
  • Using “en lieu et place de” incorrectly

Highlight These Mistakes And Provide Tips To Avoid Them

To avoid these mistakes, it is important to understand the differences between the various options for “instead of” in French. Here are some tips to help you use the correct word:

Word/Phrase Usage
Au lieu de Used when replacing one thing with another
Plutôt que Used to express a preference or choice between two things
À la place de Used to indicate a substitution or replacement
En lieu et place de Used in formal or legal contexts to indicate a substitution or replacement

It is also important to note that the word order in French can be different from English. In French, the word for “instead of” usually comes at the beginning of the sentence, followed by the thing being replaced.

For example:

  • Instead of going to the movies, let’s stay home. – Au lieu d’aller au cinéma, restons à la maison.
  • I would rather have pizza instead of sushi. – Je préfère la pizza plutôt que le sushi.
  • Can you use the black pen instead of the blue one? – Peux-tu utiliser le stylo noir à la place du bleu?

By understanding the differences between the various options for “instead of” in French and paying attention to word order, non-native speakers can avoid common mistakes and communicate more effectively in French.


In conclusion, we have explored the various ways to say “instead of” in French. From the basic “au lieu de” to the more complex “plutôt que,” we have covered a range of options for expressing this concept in the French language.

It is important to remember that language learning is a process and takes time and practice. As such, we encourage you to incorporate these new phrases into your everyday conversations with French speakers. This will not only help you to solidify your understanding of the language but also to communicate more effectively with native speakers.

Remember, language is a tool for connection and communication. By learning new words and phrases, we open ourselves up to new experiences and opportunities. So, go forth and practice your French, and see where it takes you!

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority and He’s a seasoned innovator, harnessing the power of technology to connect cultures through language. His worse translation though is when he refers to “pancakes” as “flat waffles”.