Let's say a parent tells their child, "Stop watching TV. Instead, do your homework." We could translate this into French as,

Arrête de regarder la télé. Au lieu de cela, fais tes devoirs.

My question is, which would be more idiomatic? "Au lieu, fais..." or "Au lieu de cela, fais..."? In English, the closest parallel is "instead", but we don't say "instead of that", hence my confusion.


Your phrasing "Au lieu, faites..." without the preposition "de" does not work under any circumstances; the expression always takes the form of "au lieu de + noun {or} infinitive".

I'd suggest:

Au lieu de regarder la télé, fais tes devoirs.

Arrête de regarder la télé. Pourquoi (ne) pas plutôt faire tes devoirs ?

Note: As long as you use "tes", "faites" needs to change into "fais", and preferably "cela" into "ça".

Your phrasing "Arrête de regarder la télé. Au lieu de ça, fais tes devoirs." might be misconstrued as:

Stop watching TV already! Instead of stopping that, do your homework! -- {contradictory}

... because, strictly speaking, "ça/cela" might refer to "arrêter de regarder la télé" as a whole rather than the intended "regarder la télé".

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  • 2
    Also: Arrête de regarder la télé, fais plutôt tes devoirs. – jlliagre Dec 2 '17 at 9:23
  • Arrête de regarder la télé ! A la place, fais tes devoirs. – Distic Dec 2 '17 at 14:40

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