The form anstatt … zu (sometimes statt … zu) introduces an alternative option or something that is unexpected. In English, an equivalent would be instead of.
This is a very common form that you are going to encounter and probably use very often.
Let's look at some examples:
Ich gehe lieber an den Strand, anstatt zu lernen.
I prefer going to the beach instead of studying.
Ich nehme oft das Fahrrad, statt mit dem Auto zu fahren.
I take the bicycle often instead of driving my car.
Im Urlaub esse ich in einheimischen Imbissen, anstatt in teure Restaurants zu gehen.
When I'm on holiday, I eat local street food instead of going to expensive restaurants.
Um…zu and ohne…zu can also be used as an infinitive construction (Infinitivskonstruktion) where they are merely placed in front of an infinitive with other details in between.
In exactly the same way, for anstatt...zu and statt...zu we must keep two things in mind:
  • The subject in the subordinate clause is the same as in the main clause.
  • zu + Verb in infinitive go at the end of the sentence.
Main clause
anstatt + "midfield"
zu + Infinitive
Sie wohnt jetzt in einer WG, She now lives in a flatshare
anstatt alleine "instead of alone"
zu leben. "to live".
Sie treibt jetzt mehr Sport, She does more Sport
anstatt stundenlang vor dem Fernseher "instead of in front of the TV for hours"
zu sitzen. "to sit"
Du solltest lernen, You should study
anstatt an den Strand "instead of to the beach"
zu gehen. "to go".
*The examples above contain literal translations so that you can see "under the hood" how sentences in German are built.
If there’s a second, different, subject, you must use anstatt dass form.
Jetzt rede ich die ganze Zeit, anstatt dass wir Übungen machen. I'm talking the whole time instead of us doing exercises
Sie gehen ins Kino, anstatt dass du mit ihnen essen gehst. They are going to the cinema instead of going to eat you
In the examples above, there are two different subjects (me, us/ they, you)
anstatt ... zu (+ Infinitiv) is not possible!
REMEMBER! If the verb is separable, "zu” goes between the prefix and the stem of the verb AS ONE WORD! Aufzumachen, zusammenzukommen, vorzumerken...