[Grammar] Instead of visitors, they were thieves.

beachboy

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Is the sentence above grammatically right?
 

Rover_KE

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It's grammatical.

In what context do you want to use it?
 

emsr2d2

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"We expected them to be visitors, but they weren't. They were thieves."

That example doesn't use the phrase "Instead of visitors, they were thieves".
 

Rover_KE

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... and it doesn't tell us who they were.
 

beachboy

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I don't think I understood the point. Was I wrong?
 

emsr2d2

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Give us a few sentences so that we understand the context and make sure that one of those sentences is "Instead of visitors, they were thieves".
 

beachboy

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Give us a few sentences so that we understand the context and make sure that one of those sentences is "Instead of visitors, they were thieves".

"I was visiting a museum with my girlfriend. I saw three strange guys, but I didn't care. Turns out they were thieves. They robbed us and rushed out of the museum".

I thought the example I had given made this idea clear.
 

emsr2d2

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Now please show me, in post #8, where you used "Instead of visitors, they were thieves"! You gave us a sentence in post #1 and in your title but you have failed to use it since then.
 

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I thought the example I had given made this idea clear.
"Instead of" means "in place of; as a substitute for". "Instead of apples, you sent me oranges."
Your sentence doesn't work well since it doesn't have this meaning.
 

beachboy

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"Instead of" means "in place of; as a substitute for". "Instead of apples, you sent me oranges."
Your sentence doesn't work well since it doesn't have this meaning.

Unfortunately, I can't understand why my sentence doesn't work. I understand the meaning you gave. And I think my sentence expresses the idea. I can't come up with anything better... I tried to rephrase it twice, but wasn't successful. Well, at least I tried.. :-(
 

Raymott

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ems wasn't asking you to rephrase it. She was asking you to use the phrase in a context. I assume that she wanted to know whether you knew its meaning, and I gave a guess.
Why not do what Rover and emsr2d2 have asked first, and give a context which includes the phrase? If you can do that, we'll give you an opinion about whether it works in that context.
Note that rephrasing a sentence is not giving an example of the sentence in context. It's giving a different sentence.
 

beachboy

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ems wasn't asking you to rephrase it. She was asking you to use the phrase in a context. I assume that she wanted to know whether you knew its meaning, and I gave a guess.
Why not do what Rover and emsr2d2 have asked first, and give a context which includes the phrase? If you can do that, we'll give you an opinion about whether it works in that context.
Note that rephrasing a sentence is not giving an example of the sentence in context. It's giving a different sentence.

"I was visiting a museum with my girlfriend. As we needed some information, we decided to ask some visitors who were alone in one of the rooms. As we approached them, to my surprise, instead of visitors, they were robbers. They took the opportunity to rob us." Even if it doesn't work in terms of grammar, I liked the story.
 
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emsr2d2

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"instead of thieves, they were robbers"? What happened to the visitors mentioned in your title and the sentence you have now apparently been querying for a page and a half?!
 

Raymott

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Assuming you mean "instead of visitors, they were thieves", beachboy, I'll try to end your misery.
Yes, I'd accept that usage. I would probably not use "instead". Maybe, "we found that, rather than visitors, they were robbers." There are other ways of saying it. I'm just not sure that the thieves were there instead of (in place of, as a substitute for) visitors. But most native speakers probably wouldn't think twice about this.
We'll see if others have any other point to make.
 

emsr2d2

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I'd use "but, to our surprise/horror, they were thieves, not visitors!"
 

beachboy

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Assuming you mean "instead of visitors, they were thieves", beachboy, I'll try to end your misery.
Yes, I'd accept that usage. I would probably not use "instead". Maybe, "we found that, rather than visitors, they were robbers." There are other ways of saying it. I'm just not sure that the thieves were there instead of (in place of, as a substitute for) visitors. But most native speakers probably wouldn't think twice about this.
We'll see if others have any other point to make.

Of course it was a mistake, Raymott, and thank God you guessed it, and put an end to my misery. And your comment about the problem with "instead of" in the first sentence was exactly what you pointed out. I know the meaning of "instead of", and never felt comfortable with the sentence. Anyway, that's why I posted it. Natives tell me something is right, and I just accept it and practice it. We are here to learn.
 

beachboy

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So my question now, if you are patient enough, is: in what context would "Instead of visitors, they were thieves" be acceptable?
 

emsr2d2

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The problem is that it's grammatically correct and grammatically acceptable, but none of us can think of a natural scenario in which it would be used.
 

Raymott

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Well, I told you that it would be acceptable to most people. But I wouldn't use it. I'd be happier if you had more evidence that they were supposed to be visitors, or were purporting to be visitors. But I don't want to press the point.
 
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