Instance or Instants?

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. correct tick
    • (When "instance" means occurrence, it often carries the connotation of being an example.)
    • Consider the lily for instance. correct tick
    • (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. correct tick
    • Hang on. I'll be there in two instants. correct tick
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. correct tick
  • Take a look at his latest project for instance. correct tick


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. correct tick (Physicist Julian Barbour)
  • A couple of instants after the lightning, a deafening thunder roared above our heads.correct tick
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This page was written by Craig Shrives.