For example consider two people each have a thing which is basically the same kind of but has different traits, for example a car, phone, or even bed.

So Ruari has a car and his car brand is A which is not important for my question. And Jamie has a car and his car brand is B. And both Ruari and Jamie fancy each other's car to drive for a while. If two people hand their cars over to each other for a limited time, for example for a week, which verb can be used for this situation. How can one of them offer to the other one?

  • How about changing our cars for week?

  • How about exchanging our cars for a week?

Another example could be that consider there are two people sitting next to each other on a plane.One of them,Ruari, is on aisle side, the other one,Jamie, is next to the window.But they both are not happy of where their seats was placed on the plane.Ruari wants to sit next to the window and Jamie wants to sit next to the aisle side because he has acrophobia and when they both learned that, they say:

  • Let's change our seats.

  • Let's exchange our seats.

  • 1
    Swap or exchange or switch. Let's swap cars for a week. Can we swap seats? Would you mind if we switched seats?
    – TimR
    Feb 5, 2015 at 19:59
  • Did you check the definitions of change and exchange to see if they apply to your scenarios? You would get a better understanding of the usage; then if some confusion those details would make a better question.
    – user3169
    Feb 5, 2015 at 20:09
  • @TRomano Thank you for your answer.I knew these words but it sparked another question, which word would I use if I wanted to keep it permanently.?
    – Mrt
    Feb 5, 2015 at 20:09
  • Trade is probably the best choice for a permanent exchange. Would you be interested in trading cars? Or I'll trade you this saddle and horse blanket for that canteen full of water.
    – TimR
    Feb 5, 2015 at 20:16
  • @TRomano I got it. Can I ask for the situations on my question can we use "change over" too especially for small items which can be carried like pen ."Let's change over our pens, you have blue one but you want red one and I have red one but I want blue one"
    – Mrt
    Feb 5, 2015 at 20:26

2 Answers 2


As pointed out in the comments swap is a good verb for this. Other good options are switch and trade. (I'm American, and I think swap is slightly more British, while trade is more American. Any of those options will be understood, though.)

Let's switch seats.

Let's trade seats.

When you use change, it's not clear that you mean change with one another. It's possible you both want to change your cars for a week, but not with each other. (You both drive blue cars, and want to trade them for red cars. Or you're both sitting in the back of the plane, but you want to sit in the front of the plane.)

Exchange works, but there two things to keep in mind:

  1. It sounds more formal than switch, swap, or trade.

  2. It is usually used for things carried or possessed by a person: you might exchange phones (or phone numbers) but exchanging seats sounds a little odd to me because you don't pick up your seat and pass it to the other person.

  • +1 actually for the BrE/AmE distinction, which as a Brit I would agree, trade is US to my ear, swap is Brit. [In that particular context, of course, both words would be perfectly useable in other situations] Feb 5, 2015 at 20:31

This should have been a comment, as is only an addition to apsiller's previous answer. Change is used when we attempt to indicate the process of alteration, while exchange is used to demonstrate the process of trading (i.e.: Usually both sides do this)

She changed her shoes for a more "blingy" look.


After exchanging all the possibly important details we had about the problem, we concluded that it's not appropriate to examine our students with such a question.

This is a page that contains relevant exercises.

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