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I don't understand the difference between 取り替える and 入れ替える。Could anyone explain to me the difference?

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    I wonder if 入れ替える has the nuance of upgrade or improvement, and if 取り替える keeps the quality at a somewhat similar level. – Flaw Nov 7 '16 at 15:01
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取り替える

  1. To exchange similar things each other

友達と時計を取り替えた。
I exchanged watches with a friend.

  1. To replace something old for a new one

切れた電球を新しいものに取り替えた。
I replaced a burnt-out light bulb for a new one.

入れ替える

  1. To replace/change something contained

その野球チームはスタメンを入れ替えた。
The baseball team changed the starting line-up.

気持ちを入れ替えようと思います。
I will turn over a new leaf.

In some cases, 取り替える and 入れ替える are interchangeable (入れ替えられる but not 取り替えられる).

切れた時計の電池を取り替えた/入れ替えた
I replaced the dead battery of my clock for a new one.

In this example, either 取り替える and 入れ替える can be used since the battery is old and containd in a clock .

As far as I think, both the words 入れ替える and 取り替える themselves don't have the nuance related to the quality although the purpose of 入れ替え or 取り替え may be to upgrade or to maintain the quality.

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For things with which you can use 取り出す ("to detach") or 取る ("to remove", "to pick"), you can generally use 取り替える, too. 取り出す is often used with machine parts, so 取り替える is typically used with replacing an old or broken part with a new or better one.

For things with which you can use 入れる ("to put in"), you can generally use 入れ替える, too.

  • タイヤを取り替える (○タイヤを取り出す ×タイヤを入れる)
  • おむつを取り替える (○おむつを取る ×おむつを入れる)
  • バケツの水を取り替える/入れ替える (○バケツの水を取り出す ○バケツに水を入れる)
  • CDプレーヤーのCDを取り替える/入れ替える (○CDを取り出す ○CDを入れる)
  • 電池を取り替える/入れ替える (○機械から電池を取り出す ○機械に電池を入れる)
  • 部屋の空気を入れ替える (×部屋の空気を取り出す ○部屋に空気を入れる)
  • 劇場の客を入れ替える (×劇場の客を取り出す ○劇場に客を入れる)

We also have 貼り替える (for wallpapers, posters, etc), 付け替える (for earrings, etc.), 着替える (for clothes) and so on, depending on the object to be replaced.

入れ替える also means "to exchange/swap (two places, values, etc)" rather than "to replace". 取り替える is sometimes used in the same sense, too, but I think 入れ替える is far more common.

  • AさんとBさんが座っている場所を入れ替える/取り替える
  • 変数xとyの値を入れ替える/取り替える

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