pay in cash / by cash

sunnyweather

Senior Member
Polish
Hello,

I have found in an Englsih course book the following sentence: We can say pay by cash, pay with cash or pay cash. (p. 148; face2face Pre-intermediate Student's Book)

I was really surprised as I had always heard it should be : pay in cash or pay cash.

So have the rules changed?

Is it accepted nowadays to use: pay by cash?

I'd be grateful if you could help me.

Thank you.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    We say 'by card' or 'with (a) card', so these may have influenced it: nowadays we have the common choice of paying by cash or paying by card. It is certainly true that historically 'pay cash' was most common, with 'pay in cash' second, and the other two have only recently taken off: https://books.google.com/ngrams/gra...0;.t1;,pay by cash;,c0;.t1;,pay with cash;,c0 (In fact you may need to take 'pay cash' out of that list for the two new ones to show up at all: https://books.google.com/ngrams/gra...0;.t1;,pay by cash;,c0;.t1;,pay with cash;,c0)

    However, they all sound fine to me now.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I looked at two previous threads – and so should you – and found that no one is a big fan of "pay by cash," but I'm going to hazard a guess that we're seeing it more often because of the question "Would you like to pay by cash or credit card?"

    We use "pay by credit card," so that when we put "cash" in there (first, because we prefer cash over credit card, plus it's easier to say in that form), we end up with "pay by cash" together. When we split them apart and use them independently, the memory of "by" sticks with us for both: Pay by cash. Pay by credit card.

    So much for theorizing. :)

    Added: Time-consumingly tapped out on an iPad while etb was whizzing along.
     

    sunnyweather

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you very much for your help. Classic paperback dictionaries seem to be helpless in sich situations. And even browsing the Internet does not always suffice. :)
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Paper dictionaries have traditionally been poor at keeping up with changes, and poor at noting all the idiomatic variants. People often think dictionaries contain the 'proper' means and uses of words, but in the back rooms of the dictionary publishers, linguists are weeping and salivating and swooning with joy at the tremendous power Internet searches have recently given them to find out what words actually mean and how they really are used: and it'll get back into the paper dictionaries in time. The Google Ngram Viewer is the Large Hadron Collider of lexicography.
     
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