Being replaced is never nice, after all, we all have something to offer. But, this does not mean that we get to throw the rules of the English out the window. Today, I want to look at the difference between being replaced with and being replaced by.
Replace with or by
Generally speaking, they can be interchangeable.
When A replaces B, we can either say “A has been replaced with B” or “A has been replaced by B”.
However, when the reason why A was replaced with B is because of John, we would say “John replaced A WITH B”. And not “John replaced A BY B”.
If something is broken, you replace it WITH.
If your sentence starts with the word “I” you replace it WITH.
But generally, they are interchangeable.
Replace with when it’s broken
When something breaks, you will need to throw it out and get a new one, when this happens, you would usually say, “I need to replace this WITH a newer model”.
You could also say “I need to replace this BY getting a newer one”, but that’s using more words than you need to.
All you need to remember from this section is that if you are replacing something because it is broken, you are replacing the old one WITH a new one.
I replace with
If you’re talking about taking active steps to replace something yourself, you will always replace it WITH.
For example, if you replace your bar of soap with a bottle of shower gel, you would say “I replaced my soap WITH shower gel”. And you wouldn’t say “I replaced my soap BY shower gel”.
The “I” doesn’t always have to be at the beginning of the sentence, just at the beginning of the clause, so I could say “I was smelly, so I replaced my soap with shower gel”.
When you are the one doing the replacing, you always replace “with” not “by”.
Replace with or by: It might not matter
However, for the most part, “replace with” and “replace by” are interchangeable.
Let’s say that John was sacked from his job, and in his place, his company hired mark.
One person might say “John was replaced by Mark”. And another could say “John was replaced with Mark”.
The only problem with “John was replaced by Mark” is that we don’t know if Mark is John’s replacement or his replacer. This would be extra confusing if John’s boss and replacement both have the same name.
7 examples of replace with
“I need to replace all the junk food in my house with healthy alternatives like rice, fruit, vegetables, that kinda thing. Because I am trying to lose weight”.
“Sarah replaced Mark with Jacob because she felt like the passion had died from the relationship. All she wanted was to feel like a young woman again”.
“Alfie was replaced with Jackson. We all wished Alfie the best as he started a new life on the other side of the country. But deep down, we all much preferred Jackson with his excellent sense of humour”.
“I replaced all the taps in my house with ones that use less water. I want to save the water for the next generation”.
“I replaced Twitter with meditation. I don’t care about what the world has to say about me, I just want to be left alone in peace”.
“I will replace all of you with monkeys. No I haven’t gone insane, I just want to have a company run by monkeys. Nothing insane about that HAHAHAHA
“I replaced water with fertilizer for my plants. I know it’s a bit excessive, but I just want them to grow as big and strong as I can possibly get them.”
6 examples of replace by
“The trees have all been replaced by these weird concrete things. To be honest, I’m not too sure what they are. But according to the council, they’re supposed to get electricity from the sun. Although, I personally don’t see it happening”.
“Mark has been replaced by Mary. After he was let go for sleeping with his colleagues, we decided that Mary’s work ethic would be better for our company as she adheres to our values.”
“700 years ago, all the bears in this country were replaced by beavers. The locals thought that God had shrunk the bears, which is why they always celebrate whenever they see one as it’s a sign that God is watching over them”.
“King Arthur and the knights have now been replaced by Superheroes and Hollywood. But, at their core, they’re all just strong men who we one day aspire to be like”.
“Healthy home cooked meals have been replaced by fast food and ready meals. It’s been terrible for our health. And none of us like it. But still, we keep eating the crap!”
“Pie and mash has been replaced by Curry and Chinese food. But that’s not a bad thing as it means the world is becoming more and more cultured”.
Replace with or by: There are more than two options
As well as “replace with” or “replace by” there are several other ways we could phrase it. Let’s go back to our previous example where Mark got fired, and John took his place.
“Mark has been replaced by John”
“Mark has been replaced with John”
“John has replaced Mark”
“John now does Mark’s job”
“John is now in Mark’s place”
“Mark is out. John is in”
As you can see, there are several other ways of saying that John is no longer working at the company, and John is in his place instead.
When you’re not the one doing the replacing, and one thing isn’t broken, you can use either “replaced with” or “replaced by”.
However, when you’re talking about someone else doing the replacing then thing A was replaced BY the person.
If it’s broken, you replace it WITH a new one.
And if you do it, you say “I replaced X WITH Y”.
And yes, I know all these rules do make things a little more complex than they perhaps need to be. But, when in doubt, just say “with” as this is more likely to be correct than “by”.
Hopefully, you found this website useful, and you won’t replace us with another grammar website.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.