I had a discussion with my girlfriend about the use of change and exchange and would like to have the opinion from an native speaker. Here is the sentence of discussion:

I want to exchange this old chair with a new one.

You could also use replace in this sentence, but what about the word "change" here? I want to change this old chair to a new one?

Thanks for the help!

  • You normally change or exchange X for Y (in most contexts both verbs are equivalent and interchangeable). To is usually only used with change (usually meaning change into = transmogrify, not swap) But you normally replace X with Y. – FumbleFingers Oct 26 '15 at 17:08
  • So both are correct, but you need to change the sentence order? I want to exchange this old chair with a new one. I want to change this old chair for a new one. I want to replace this old chair with a new one. – LANopop Oct 26 '15 at 17:48
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    You really should be asking things like this on English Language Learners. Per my first comment, we normally use for with either change or exchange, so your example usage is not "correct". Contextually it's obvious you cannot convert (= change) a specific old chair into the same chair, but new, so the intended sense must be either replace or swap. But this is all too much to explain adequately in comments, and I do not think ELU is the right place for detailed answers about such basic aspects of usage. – FumbleFingers Oct 26 '15 at 17:55

Exchange is to swap something out for something else. Change is to, well, change something, but not to exchange. For instance, I couldn't exchange the word exchange with the word change in your sentence, because the word exchange means to change something for something else, so i can't exchange exchange for change.

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    Change is very general, with many verbal meanings, an associated noun, and a number of idioms. Exchange has a much more limited meaning, and features mostly in some variant of the Commercial Transaction Frame. As a verb, the formula is Agent exchange X for Y, 'Agent give X away and receive Y in return/exchange' -- e.g, I exchanged that battery for a better one. – John Lawler Oct 26 '15 at 18:58

If one were to "change this old chair to a new one", one would have to be a genie or a magician of some sort, because "change", in this case, implies a direct modification of the object itself.

In your case, the correct phrase would be to "exchange this old chair for a new one".

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