Pay vs. Pay For – English Vocabulary Lesson

Michael Confusing Words, Grammar 4 Comments


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In Jack’s company, they often go out to dinner or for drinks. The good news is that the boss always pays for dinner. He generally pays the check in the restaurant with his corporate credit card. One time Jack offered to pay for dinner, but the boss refused. I think they pay a lot of money for those kinds of dinners!

Today, lets have a look at the difference between pay and pay for. Do you know the difference? Have a look at the paragraph above once more, then check today’s lesson below.

We pay money. The structure is pay + $0.00 or  pay money, like this:

  • I paid $3.00 for a cup of tea today.
  • I heard Jack only pays $1,000 per month for his rent in the West Village.
  • Did you pay a lot of money for that jacket?

We use pay something or someone when we talk about what we or who we give money to. You pay a person, or you pay a bill or invoice. You pay money you owe for previously received services or goods:

  • We always pay the phone bill on the 10th of the month.
  • At the diner, you pay the cashier near the door.
  • Jen bought a house because she got tired of paying her landlord.

We use pay for when we talk about the event or item we give money for and receive at the same time. Usually you pay for services or goods that you receive at the time of paying:

  • The boss paid for lunch.
  • You have to pay for an item before you take it out of the store.
  • I paid for the movie tickets online.

Note the difference between pay and pay for:

  • I paid Chris. I gave money to Chris.
  • I paid for Chris. I gave money so that Chris can receive some item or service.

What have you paid for recently? Who have you paid recently? Why not practice this English by leaving a comment below!
If you know anyone who might be interested in this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them. Thanks for studying today!

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