As far as I know, in sports, we can say someone substituted or he/she was substituted if he entered the game later in the game instead of another player. I wonder if native English speakers also can use a sentence like "LeBron James substituted" if he was substituted out of the game. Can we say these if the player was subbed out?

LeBron James was substituted.

LeBron James substituted.

1 Answer 1


According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the verb substitute has different meanings depending on whether it is transitive or intransitive. This is clearly stated in the American English entry, and is covered by the separate substitute for entry for British English.

All of the following sentences are correct and describe the same situation:

The manager substituted LeBron James for player X. -transitive, active voice
LeBron was substituted for player X. - transitive, passive voice
LeBron substituted for player X. - intransitive, active voice

In British English, the for-phrase is optional in the transitive version, but required for the intransitive version, unless you are talking about a substitute teacher: I don't know whether it can be omitted in American English.

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