Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

How to use instead in English native speakers

Do you know how to use the word instead in English?

We use it to state a preference for one thing over another or a choice.

We need to be able to say that we are going to put something in place of something else by swapping it in, trading it, or changing it.

Why does this matter for connection?

Our preferences tell a story about who we are. People want to know us and how we like to live our lives!

Check out today’s episode to build this crucial skill today!


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Why are we talking about “instead”?

I was listening to an interview with Ben and Jerry last night on How I Built This.

I found out why they used big chunks in their ice cream “instead of” smaller chunks that are spread throughout the ice cream.


Why did they use big chunks?

It was because Ben had no sense of smell.

He probably had a lowered sense of taste also.

He paid more attention to the texture and the feel of eating the ice cream and he was convinced that people wanted to feel that large chunk of cookie dough, brownie, or fudge, in their mouth.

So they made homemade ice cream “instead of” industrial ice cream with large chunks that wouldn’t fit in the machines.

I love Ben and Jerry’s chunks!


So today were focusing on the phrase “instead of” as a way to state your preferences or choices.

We have a question from a listener.

Here is the question:

Hello Lindsay, Michelle, and Jessica, how are you doing? I’m Ricardo from Brazil, one more great fun of All Ears English. These days I listened to the sentence “Please, take me instead.” 

Although I understood the context, I’m not sure if I got exactly the meaning of that. Maybe you could tell us the meaning in an episode. Thanks a lot for the brilliant work you all do for us.

– Ricardo


That’s another great question!

It is a super important word and it’s part of the foundation of the language.

You have to be able to say when you want one thing “instead” of another.

It’s super common so we’re going to look at a little grammar now.


How to use “instead”:

It always has the same core meaning. It means that we are replacing one thing with another, but there are a few different ways to structure it in a sentence:


How to use it in a sentence:

  • 1)  Instead (as an adverb)- We use this when we want to state our choice and we place it at the end of the sentence.
    • Examples:
      • “You suggested we go skating but I want to go skiing instead.”
      • “He wants to get a steak dinner but I want sushi instead.”


  • 2) Instead of (putting preposition after): We use this when we compare two things directly and we put “instead” right between them.
    • Examples:
      • “He drives a mini van instead of a sports car because he has kids.”
      • Let’s go to the Caribbean instead of Iceland in March.”


  • 3) Instead of + “-ing”(putting gerund after instead of):
    • Examples:
      • “Instead of inviting everyone, I am only going to invite my 4 closest friends.”
      • “Instead of cleaning the whole house myself, I’ll just hire a cleaner.”

Your question:

Going back to your question of what “take me instead” means, here the person means “take me instead of that person” but they took off “of that person.”

This is similar to the first set of examples.



Go out and use the word “instead” as much as you can.

It’s key to forming a bunch of sentences around voicing your opinion and making choices.

That’s what builds connection and that’s why we’re learning English!


What questions do you have today?

Let us know in the comments below.

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