Au lieu de

Young girl choosing an apple
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Expression: Au lieu de

Pronunciation: [oh lyeu deu]

Meaning: instead of

Literal translation: in the place of

Register: normal


The French expression au lieu de can be translated by "instead of" or "rather than," not to mention the French-English blend "in lieu of." However, note the difference in pronunciation: in French, lieu is pronounced [lyeu] (click the sound file above), whereas in American English it's pronounced [loo].


Au lieu de can be used in front of an infinitive, a noun, or a demonstrative pronoun:

   Je vais écrire une lettre au lieu de leur téléphoner.

   I'm going to write a letter rather than calling them.


   Viens m'aider au lieu de rester là à ne rien faire !

   Come help me instead of just sitting there!

When it precedes a subordinate clause, the expression becomes au lieu que (and requires the subjunctive). However, this usage is somewhat archaic; if at all possible, you should reword the sentence to use au lieu de + infinitive.    

Au lieu que tout le monde prenne sa voiture, allons-y ensemble.

Instead of everyone taking his or her own car, let's all go together.

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Your Citation
Team, ThoughtCo. "Au lieu de." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). Au lieu de. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "Au lieu de." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 20, 2023).