In all dictionaries I looked at, there are examples of the structure, "swap something for something" and "trade something for something," but there are no examples of "swap something" or "trade something". So I wonder if we can use the structures "trade something" and "swap something". What I mean is, I only see sentences like "I swapped/traded my guitar for another," "I swapped/traded my computer for a gaming console" etc. instead of "I swapped/traded my guitar," "I swapped/traded my computer" etc. So I wonder if it is wrong to not add "for..." to those sentences. For example let's say I am having a guest. He asks, "Where is your blue guitar? It doesn't seem to be around." If I swapped/traded that guitar for another thing, and if I don't want to tell him what I swapped/traded it for, can I answer this question by saying,

"I traded it."


"I swapped it."

Or would they be grammatically wrong? Do we always have to add what we swapped/traded it for in sentences like these?

  • just trade or swap makes no sense since in every case, one does in fact trade one thing for another. If you don't say for what, unless the interlocutor knows the context, it will be meaningless.
    – Lambie
    Dec 23, 2021 at 15:22
  • But informally people do say "I swapped it". Didn't you have a Toyota? Yes, but I've swapped it. or The printer I bought was defective, so I took it back to the shop and they swapped it.
    – WS2
    Apr 24, 2022 at 7:37
  • Trade is different to swap in that it is a word with far wider meaning. Americans use it, in place of swap. We rarely use the verb trade in that way in Britain. With trade, one could say, for example The shop has begun trading or We do not trade on Sundays - but they are quite different senses.
    – WS2
    Apr 24, 2022 at 7:49

1 Answer 1


Do we always have to add what we swapped/traded it for in sentences like these?

No--if it's not specified, either context will fill in that information, or the speaker/writer doesn't think that what it was swapped for is important.

Something you or others might be thinking: A verb like give generally requires both direct and indirect object to be specified. Swap isn't a two-object verb like give so it doesn't work the same way.

  • Thanks. I know we can say sentences like "We swapped phones," "We traded places," "We swapped our cars" etc. But the case I am talking about in the OP is different. You can understand what I mean, right? Dec 7, 2020 at 21:41
  • @FireandIce Even where you say I swapped it with no object - the very use of the word implies there is an object, albeit an unspoken one. You can't simply "swap something*. A listener would always be likely to ask - "What did you swap it for?*
    – WS2
    Apr 24, 2022 at 7:45

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