Instance or Instants?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Instance" and "Instants"?

"Instance" and "instants" are easy to confuse because they sound identical (i.e., they are perfect homonyms). However, their meanings are very different.
  • "Instance" is an occurrence or an example.
    • I am talking about the instance when you put the wrong oil in your lawn mower.
    • (When "instance" means occurrence, it often carries the connotation of being an example.)
    • Consider the lily for instance.
    • (The term "for instance" is a common way of saying "for example.")
  • "Instant" is short period of time. The plural is "instants." ("Instant" usually means "a brief moment.")
    • The light bulb lasted no longer than a few instants.
    • Hang on. I'll be there in two instants.
instance or instants?

More about "Instance" and "Instants"

The words "instance" and "instants" are homonyms (more specifically, homophones) because they sound the same. They are both common words.


The noun "instance" means an occurrence or an example.

Example sentences with "instance":
  • This is another instance of Mark's poor attitude.
  • Take a look at his latest project for instance.


The word "instants" is the plural of of the noun "instant," which means "a short period of time." An instant usual means "a brief moment."

Example sentences with "instants":
  • There are things that I would say that you could call an instant of time; or better, a now. As we live we seem to move through a succession of instants of time, nows, and the question is, what are they? There are where everything in the universe is at this moment, now. (Physicist Julian Barbour)
  • A couple of instants after the lightning, a deafening thunder roared above our heads.

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See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? List of easily confused words

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