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Quick answer
"En lugar de" is a phrase which is often translated as "instead of", and "en cambio" is a phrase which is often translated as "instead". Learn more about the difference between "en lugar de" and "en cambio" below.
en lugar de(
A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
1. (rather than)
a. instead of
¿Por qué no nos echas una mano en lugar de quejarte tanto?Why don't you give us a hand instead of constantly complaining?
2. (as a substitute for)
a. instead of
Alguien tendrá que ir al almuerzo de trabajo con los japoneses en lugar de María.Someone will have to go to the working lunch with the Japanese instead of Maria.
b. in place of
El Real Madrid tenía que encontrar alguien que pudiera jugar en lugar de Zidane.Real Madrid had to find someone who could play in place of Zidane.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Pasé el fin de semana preparando una reunión a la que tenía que acudir el lunes por la mañana en lugar de mi jefa.I spent the weekend preparing a meeting I had to attend on Monday morning in my boss's place.
Lucía no va a llegar a tiempo. Iré yo en su lugar.Lucia is not going to make it. I'll go in her place.
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en cambio(
A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
1. (general)
a. instead
Pensó que le iban a dar una promoción. En cambio, lo despidieron.He thought they were going to give him a promotion. Instead, they fired him.
b. however
Roberto estaba tranquilo. Cristina, en cambio, estaba muy nerviosa.Roberto was very calm. Cristina, however, was very nervous.
c. conversely
En cambio, si no invertimos ahora puede que demos a quiebra dentro de un año.Conversely, if we don't invest now, we could go bankrupt within a year.
d. on the other hand
He logrado evitar el refresco por un mes. El café, en cambio, es otro rollo.I've managed to go a month without soda. Coffee, on the other hand, is a different story.
e. but
A mí sí que me gustó, en cambio a Daniel para nada.I liked it, but Daniel didn't like it at all.
f. whereas
Los hijos de mi hermana son muy estudiosos, en cambio los míos son creativos.My sister's children are very studious whereas mine are creative.
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