Let's think we have 3 bottles. A bottle of cola, a bottle of milk and a bottle of water.

We put them in line. First is cola, second is water and third is milk.

Now, I change the place of cola with milk. I put milk before water, and cola after water.

What did I do? I ??? cola and water...

Do we have a verb to replace with ??? in that sentence?

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    Not enough information to go on. What exactly about the cola and water are you trying to describe? You have swapped, or exchanged, the cola and the milk. You could say you have reversed the cola and the water, if that's what you mean. – MetaEd Mar 26 '13 at 4:38
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    You can say you "swapped cola and milk" but I know of no single word or phrase which designates the consequent relative change in position of cola and water, with no change in the absolute position of water. You might say that you "demoted cola from ahead of water to behind water". Correspondingly, you have "promoted milk from behind water to ahead of water". – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 26 '13 at 4:39
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    Good question. Like a vehicle overtaking another? Pass? Transcend. – Kris Mar 26 '13 at 5:57
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    You could say you reversed the order of the bottles. – Kit Z. Fox Mar 26 '13 at 9:37
  • You didn't do anything with the water, it didn't change positions. You moved the cola behind the water. – Kristina Lopez Mar 26 '13 at 17:58

Interesting. I would have said "I exchanged the position of the cola and milk". Two things about this: first, I would make the aspect of position explicit; second, I would choose the verb "exchange" in preference to "swapped", recognizing, of course, that they often function as synonyms as KeyBrd Basher noted in the definition of "swap".


You could say

I swapped the bottles of cola and milk.

Swapped : to make an exchange

Otherwise, you could use the word "switched" instead of "swapped". Either way is correct and conveys the action.


I suppose that you could say that you have switched the bottle of cola with the bottle of water as they are in bottles after all.

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    But OP hasn't switched them. He's switched [the bottle of] cola and [the bottle of] milk, leaving [the bottle of] water in place. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 26 '13 at 4:35

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