Language tip of the week: spend

Posted by on November 29, 2011

In this weekly microblog, we bring to English language learners more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary. These tips are based on areas of English (e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, synonyms, etc) which learners often find difficult.

This week’s language tip helps with the verb spend.

When you use spend with another verb, to talk about how someone uses their time or their money, use the –ing form of the verb, not the infinitive.
✗ Some people spend a lot of time to watch TV during the day.
✓ Some people spend a lot of time watching TV during the day.
✗ Many young people spend the whole day to play online games.
✓ Many young people spend the whole day playing online games.
When spend time or spend money is followed by a noun, use the preposition on, not ‘for’ or ‘in’:
✗ This money could be spent for other more important things.
✓ This money could be spent on other more important things.
✗ Students should consider their financial situation before they spend their money in goods.
✓ Students should consider their financial situation before they spend their money on goods.

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Comments (1)
  • Congratulations on this post – I have noticed that learners of English as a second language often have problems with this verb and how it collocates with other verbs. From personal experience, learning the correct use of prepositions in another language is incredibly difficult, and regardless of what all the language teachers out there say, prepositions CANNOT be taught! You just need to listen carefully to what native speakers say, and gradually build up an ‘ear’ for what sounds ‘natural’.

    Thanks!

    Posted by Rachel Bryan on 1st December, 2011
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