So I came across the following sentence:

Use the staircase without a lift or an escalator to save energy.

Even though the description suggested that there is nothing wrong with it, I felt a bit uneasy about using the word "without" here, as I thought that it would be more natural if it used "instead of".

I did some research, and I got the following definition for "without".

with the absence, omission, or avoidance of; not with; with no or none of; lacking:

I was a bit confused because when I consider the meaning "avoidance", it seemed to make sense.
As I'm not particularly fluent at English, I thought that I should ask.

So I am curious if it's alright to use "without" in place of "instead of" and if not, why.
Thank you.

  • I think, no. Reasons, not sure. – NVZ Sep 22 '17 at 10:10
  • 'Use the staircase without a lift or an escalator to save energy.' is unacceptable. 'Instead of', 'rather than' or ', and not a lift or an escalator, to save energy.' are needed. Where did you find this sentence? – Edwin Ashworth Sep 22 '17 at 10:39
  • It was one of the questions on an online test website(?) and the question was to choose all the appropriate words to fill in the blank(which is where the word "without" is.). I only chose "instead of", but the answer was "instead of" and "without". @EdwinAshworth – Kiwi Lee Sep 22 '17 at 10:55
  • So much for some of these learn 'English' websites. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 22 '17 at 11:01
  • Yep. I'm guessing that the test publishers didn't do enough research. Quite concerned of the people who thought it's correct because of them. @EdwinAshworth – Kiwi Lee Sep 22 '17 at 11:05
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Partial answer:

For the sentence you've provided, I'd say, no. Using without in place of instead of does not present the same idea. So just use instead of and avoid any confusion.

Suppose a similar sentence is:

  1. Order a coffee instead of tea.

Your two options are tea and coffee. In this sentence, you're preferring one over the other.

  1. Order a coffee without tea.

It does not convey the same idea as sentence 1.

  1. Order a coffee without sugar.

This makes sense, but is conveying a different idea.

  • So-if I understood correctly-the sentence I wrote will still have a similar concept of advising to use the staircase, but it would not be the exact same? – Kiwi Lee Sep 22 '17 at 10:32
  • @KiwiLee just use instead of and avoid any confusion. – NVZ Sep 22 '17 at 10:36

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