Au lieu de

Essential French Expression

Au lieu de
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Meaninginstead of, rather than
Literallyin place of
PronunciationFrench sound files [oh lyeu deu]
IPA  [o ljø də]

Usage notes: Au lieu de is a very useful French expression for mentioning an alternative; it’s equivalent to "instead of" and "rather than," as well as its anglicized version "in lieu of."

 In English, "lieu" is pronounced [loo], but you can hear in the sound file above that the correct French pronunciation is [lyeu].

The alternative offered after au lieu de can be a noun, pronoun, or infinitive.

Par exemple…

Tu es soûl – prends de l’eau au lieu d’une autre bière. You’re drunk – have some water rather than another beer.
Jacques va appeler au lieu de moi. Jacques is going to call instead of me.
J’ai décidé de peindre au lieu de cueillir les fleurs I decided to paint instead of picking the flowers.

 Au lieu que can be used in front of a subordinate clause in the subjunctive, but this construction is somewhat archaic, so it’s better to reword the sentence in order to use au lieu de instead.

Au lieu que tu fasses la cuisine, dînons en ville. Rather than you cooking, let’s eat out.
Au lieu de faire la cuisine, dînons en ville. Rather than cooking, let’s eat out.

Somewhat synonymous

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Au lieu de

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