spend money on/for something

tigerduck

Senior Member
German / Switzerland
Hello

I know that the preposition most often used after spend money is on. My question is whether the preposition on can also be replaced by for? If so, do you think this is generally possible or only in certain situations?

example:
I think we should spend the money on/for a sports club with new gym and bar facilities.
 
  • shiningstar

    Senior Member
    turkish
    Hi tigerduck,

    When it comes to use on/for with spend money they give different meanings. I'll try to explain that by the sentence you've provided:

    1-I think we should spend the money on a sports club with new gym and bar facilities. I understand from this that you're considering to buy a sports club with new gym and bar facilities.

    2- I think we should spend the money for a sports club with new gym and bar facilities. And from this I get the idea that you're considering to invest on a sport club already exist and run by someone else.
     
    Last edited:

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    I think we should spend the money on/for a sports club with new gym and bar facilities.
    As usual, the absence of context allows us to invent intentions for the speaker or writer, and from these inventions or assumptions flow our interpretations of the meaning of the sentence.

    Here are some assumed intentions, and the resulting meanings of the sentence.

    I think we should spend the money on a sports club with new gym and bar facilities.

    Assume: A conversation among people trying to decide how to use the money from a bequest. Among the choices under discussion is a sports club. If the money is not spent on a sports club, it will be used for some other purpose.

    Interpretation: "On" simple connects the money to an intended use. Let's spend it on this. If not, let's spend it on that.

    On
    points to the destination of the funds.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I think we should spend the money for a sports club with new gym and bar facilities.

    All of the above, both assumptions and interpretation, can be used again with for.

    New assumption:
    Money has been budgeted or allocated previously. It will be spent to create a sports club.

    Interpretation: The sports facility should have, in the opinion of the speaker, a new gym and bar facilities. The speaker is advocating that the new sports club, in contrast with whatever facility it will replace, will have features not previously present.



    The second assumption and interpretation might also work with on.

    Conclusion: without more context and background, the two prepositions are interchangeable in this sentence. Neither one restricts the meaning. Money should be spent, according to the speaker. Either preposition can point at the use to which it should be put.
     

    shiningstar

    Senior Member
    turkish
    So, that's official now that one (like me) shouldn't jump on the conclusions where a foreign language is in question.

    But really thanks cuchuflete, for both explantion and correction and sorry tigerduck for misleading.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    So, that's official now that one (like me) shouldn't jump on to the conclusions where a foreign language is in question.

    But really thanks cuchuflete, for both explanation and correction and sorry tigerduck for misleading.
    Your interpretations might be correct, shiningstar. It would depend on the context and background. It is very difficult, and often misleading, to try to generalize about grammar or style from an isolated sentence or fragment. There may very well be contexts or example sentences in which substituting on and for completely changes the meaning.
     

    tigerduck

    Senior Member
    German / Switzerland
    I've just come across the question again whether spend has to be followed by on or whether it can also be followed by for. While doing my research, I realized that I have posted this question before (in this thread) and I've also come across this thread: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2260356

    In both cases the answer is that yes, for can be used as well (at least in the two sentences given in the two threads) and my partner, who is from the United States, also says that both on and for is possible.

    However, ABC of Common Grammatical Errors, which is based on British English, considers the following sentence as wrong:

    On St Valentine's Day some Japanese girls spend almost half their salary for chocolate. (sentence labelled as incorrect in ABC of Common Grammatical Errors)

    ABC of Common Grammatical Errors says that "[w]e spend a sum of money on the things we buy". Therefore, it should be:

    On St Valentine's Day some Japanese girls spend almost half their salary on chocolate.

    I now wonder whether in American English spend for is acceptable but not in British English.
     

    marylou2010

    Senior Member
    German (Swiss)
    Hello again,

    as the discussion ended with "I now wonder whether in AE spend for is acceptable but not in BE", I think that:

    - I spend plenty of money on traveling. OK in both AE/ BE
    - I spend plenty of moeny for traveling. OK in AE only

    Is that correct?

    Thank you!
     

    sitifan

    New Member
    Hokkien & Mandarin Chinese
    Hello,

    I don't know if "I spend plenty of money for travel(l)ing" is OK in AE; I doubt it. It's not OK in BE.
    It's OK in AE.
    spend something for something
    to pay out an amount of money for something. I spent nearly forty dollars for that vase! How much did you spend for this house—if I may ask?
    See also: spend
    McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
     

    Englishman123

    New Member
    German - Germany
    Hey everyone,

    maybe someone can give me a quick answer:

    Context, Liz is a girl with a lot of money. She receives a letter form her friend in which the friend gives her some advice on how to spend it.

    "You can spend your money for a charity organisation."
    vs "You can spend your money on a charity organisation."

    Does it work or do you need to construct a different sentence like "you can donate your money to a charity organisation."

    The one who wrote the 1. sentence doesnt know the word "donate". So he/she couldnt construct a sentence with this word on her/his own.
     

    Lun-14

    Banned
    Hindi
    "You can spend your money for a charity organization." -> It sounds as if you were going to be the head of that organization - i.e, to take up all the responsibility of that organization to work for.

    "You can spend your money on a charity organization. -> it sounds as if you were going to spend your money for the benefit of that organization so it could work efficiently.

    I could be wrong. Wait for a native's answer. :)
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    This really needs to say "You can donate/give your money to a charity organisation."

    "You can spend your money for a charity organisation." suggests to me that you're spending money on behalf of a charity organisation.
    "You can spend your money on a charity organisation." carries the inference that you're buying the organisation.

    [cross-posted]
     

    Juhasz

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    DonnyB's advise is sound, but I'd additionally point out that the need to restructure the sentence doesn't come from any special properties of charities. The issue is that a charity, like any other organization, is generally not something one can purchase. An equivalent (and incorrect) sentence would be: "You can spend your money on/for a grocery store." We don't normally buy grocery stores. We buy groceries.

    You can "spend your money on groceries." Likewise, "you can spend your money on a charitable cause" - just not on a charity.
     
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