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Subject to Change: Meaning and Proper Usage

When learning the English Language, there is a lot more to it than just everyday conversation. At some point, you might face application forms or the terms and conditions for a business or service that you require. These documents often include many phrases and terms that you’re unlikely to encounter elsewhere, and “subject to change” is an excellent example of this.

The phrase “subject to change” commonly occurs in contractual language to note items in an agreement that might change. Although the phrase is sometimes used in conversation, it is most often found in documents or applications to state that the prices, dates, or policies are not set in stone.

Keep reading to understand better the context of “subject to change,” some common mistakes made with the phrase, like “subjected to change,” and some alternative words like “fixed” to use in its place.

What the Phrase “Subject to Change” Means

The phrase “subject to change” is composed of a phrasal verb, “subject to,” and a noun, “change.” A phrasal verb is a phrase that acts as a verb made up of a regular verb and either a preposition, an adverb, or both. The phrasal verb “subject to” means to bring under the control of something else (source).

In British English, they define “subject to” as an adjective, but it still has the same basic meaning of conditional or dependent upon something (source).

“Change” in a sentence can be a verb or a singular noun, but in the phrase “subject to change,” the word functions as a noun, meaning the act of becoming different.

To be “subject to change,” then, is to be contingent on some new set of circumstances. It can also imply there is a high degree of likelihood that change or some form of alteration will occur (source).

When using “subject to” in a sentence, “subject to” must always come before the noun in the same way that it does in the phrase “subject to change.”

Some examples of “subject to” in a sentence:

  • This medication leaves you subject to drowsiness.
  • Timmy is subject to time outs when he misbehaves.
  • Long-term isolation leaves you subject to insanity.
  • Some dog breeds are subject to obesity according to their genetics.

How to Use “Subject to Change” in a Sentence

Now that you understand the meaning of the verbal phrase “subject to” and have seen examples, let’s discuss how to use “subject to change” in a sentence. “Subject to change” describes something about the subject, meaning that it functions collectively as an adjective phrase. 

When using “subject to change” in a sentence, the sentence’s subject must always come before the phrase. In the following examples, we list the subject in purple, the verbal phrase in red, and the object in green.

When I signed her soccer forms, it said that the monthly fee was subject to change.

For future reference, my hourly rates are subject to change.

Molly’s mom said their holiday plans were subject to change according to the weather.

I’d like to know if the price of oranges is subject to change.

My Grandad told me that the deed to his house is subject to change upon his death.

In the above examples, you’ll notice that the sentence only makes sense because the subject of the sentence comes before the phrase. For instance, in the first example, “the monthly fee” is the subject that is likely to change, and that is why it is “subject to change.”

You can use the phrase “subject to change” in everyday conversation. However, it has a very formal tone and is better used in a more formal setting.

The most common use for this phrase is in legal documents, forms, letters, or formal emails stating that the terms of an agreement are subject to change. Contracts will usually list the specific terms subject to change or revision, whether it’s fees, services, schedules, or what have you (source).

As shown in the examples that follow, there are two main ways you may find “subject to change” in a legal document — used within a sentence to describe terms that are changeable or used as a heading followed by the changeable terms.

The price of lunch foods in the school cafeteria is subject to change.

These terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.

TERMS SUBJECT TO CHANGE: The Department of Residential Life and Business Services and XYZ University reserves the sole right to restrict the number of meals or quantity of portions served should access to funds or resources be impaired.

What Is Another Way of Saying “Subject to Change?”

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There are many other, more straightforward ways of saying that something is “subject to change.” You can replace the phrase with one of the following interchangeable words, or synonyms, and your sentence will mean the same thing (source). 

A few formal words that are interchangeable with “subject to change” include:

  • Conditional
  • Fluid
  • Scalable
  • Tentative
  • Conjectural
  • Modifiable

A few conversational words and phrases that are interchangeable with “subject to change” include:

  • Adjustable
  • Unsettled
  • Not final
  • Unconfirmed
  • Likely to change

Let’s take a look at how these interchangeable words can take the place of “subject to change” without changing the meaning or grammar. The sentence we will work with today is “Amy’s soccer fees this year are subject to change.”

ConditionalAmy’s soccer fees this year are conditional.
FluidAmy’s soccer fees this year are fluid.
ScalableAmy’s soccer fees this year are scalable.
AdjustableAmy’s soccer fees this year are adjustable.

You can see how the meaning remains the same and how these words are much simpler additions to your daily vocabulary. For more options, make sure you consult references like The Oxford New Essential Dictionary and Dreyer’s English style guide, available on Amazon.

“Subject to Change” or “Subjected to Change?”

These two phrases, “subject to change” and “subjected to change,” may sound similar, but they are not the same.

“Subject to change” is a grammatically correct phrase often used in legal documentation, whereas “subjected to change” is far less common, possibly used to imply that someone was forced to change. 

The verbal phrase “subjected to” is used in the same way as “subject to,” only “subjected to” is mostly used to describe a negative circumstance that a person is generally unwilling to go through.

In other words, “subject to” is used to describe an action that is prone to happen, “subjected to” is used to describe an action that has happened or has been happening to a person, usually in a negative sense.

Subject toSubjected to
Your fingers are subject to freeze if you stay out too long.Your fingers are subjected to freezing temperatures when you stay out too long.
Your skin is subject to burning in this hot summer sun.Your skin has been subjected to burning in this hot summer sun. 
Louis is subject to bullying because she is new.Because she is new, Louis has been subjected to bullying.

These examples show you how the two phrases “subject to” and “subjected to” can change the meaning from something likely to happen to something that has or is happening.

For further guides on using various English phrases, check out our article on the comparison of “what are you up to” vs. “what are you up too.”

What Is the Opposite of “Subject to Change?”

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There are many contrasting words and phrases that mean the opposite of “subject to change,” and the most commonly used is “fixed.” There are a few other synonyms to “fixed,” which we will discuss later in this section.

The word “fixed” is used to explain that something can’t or won’t change. For example, suppose you purchase a car, and there will not be any interest on your monthly car payments. In that case, your contract will say that the monthly installment is fixed.

How to Use “Fixed” in a Sentence with Examples

Much like “subject to change,” the word “fixed” is better used in a formal setting, particularly in legal documents and forms pertaining to fees or schedules of some kind.

“Fixed” functions as an adjective, like the adjective phrase “subject to change.” When using the word “fixed” in a sentence, the subject will come before the word in the same way that it would for “subject to change.”

Let’s look at some example sentences using “fixed” with the adjective highlighted in blue.

You said that the timeframe for building the house was fixed.

My singing teacher told me that her hourly rate is fixed and is the same for every student.

Andrew read through the document only to see that the monthly mortgage was fixed.

I don’t know if my yearly rate should be fixed or subject to change.

The monthly rental in this building is fixed until next February.

For many of these examples, you can see that if you swapped the word “fixed” with “subject to change,” the sentence’s meaning will become inverted.

Let’s pretend that you run a housecleaning service in your neighborhood, and you decide that you’re going to charge a weekly fee, including a few popular jobs.

If you decide that you are going to choose a weekly rate that stays the same no matter if your expenses increase or decrease, then you will say that your prices are fixed.

If you decide that your weekly rate must be allowed to fluctuate if your expenses increase or decrease, you will say that your prices are subject to change.

Subject to ChangeFixed
The tour dates for next month are subject to change.The tour dates for next month are fixed.
My hourly rate for gardening services is subject to change.My hourly rate for gardening services is fixed.
Tim’s ski trip is subject to change depending on the weather forecast.Tim’s ski trip is subject to change no matter the weather forecast.
Your appointment is subject to change; please call ahead of time to confirm.Your appointment is fixed; there’s no need to call ahead of time to confirm.
Thanks to my landlord, our electricity prices are subject to change.Thanks to my landlord, our electricity prices are fixed.

These examples show you how the sentences mean the opposite of each other. The sentence structure may also change when you interchange these two phrases.

Alternatives to “Fixed”

There are various words and phrases you can use in replacement of the word “fixed.” Some of these phrases and words include:

  • Set in stone
  • Permanent
  • Established
  • Secured
  • Inflexible

Although these words and phrases are grammatically correct replacements for the word “fixed,” many of them are unlikely to be used.

Examples of Words and Phrases Interchangeable with “Fixed”

Let’s look at some examples of how words and phrases interchangeable with “fixed” behave in the same sentence.

For these examples, let’s use this sentence to work with: “John’s monthly mortgage on the house is fixed.”

Set in stoneJohn’s monthly mortgage on the house is set in stone.
PermanentJohn’s monthly mortgage on the house is permanent.
EstablishedJohn’s monthly mortgage on the house is established.
SecuredJohn’s monthly mortgage on the house is secured.
InflexibleJohn’s monthly mortgage on the house is inflexible.

Unlike “subject to change,” in the examples above, the word “fixed” is the best word to use. The other words still make sense in the sentence, but they are less likely to be used in this scenario.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this article has offered you the support and knowledge you needed. The next time you read the terms in a document and see the phrase “subject to change,” you’ll know exactly what it means.

Learning the English language in more depth may get daunting at times, but each step forward is a step in the right direction.

Some of the most challenging aspects of this complex language are the words and phrases used in business and legal documents. Well done for coming this far in your English Language learning journey.