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I'm working for a truck manufacturer and I have to analyse what our customers do with their vehicles (for example, how many kilometres do they usually drive per day, or how much fuel do they use?).

I'm not a native English-speaker and I'm not sure if I should say I'm studying "customer usage" or "customer use".

I've read many pages explaining the difference between both words, and I think "usage" is the right word, but I would like to be sure.

Thank you.

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marked as duplicate by KitFox May 3 '13 at 12:39

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Yes, you are right. Go ahead with usage. –  Kris May 3 '13 at 12:17
    
There is a reasonable analysis at blogs.transparent.com/english/use-versus-usage . 'Usage' corresponds to 'the usual way' (something's said / done / used). –  Edwin Ashworth May 3 '13 at 12:21
    
I marked this as a duplicate, but if the answers there don't satisfy you, please edit your question to clarify your confusion (that is, to explain why you think either one might fit). –  KitFox May 3 '13 at 12:42

1 Answer 1

While neither "customer use" nor "customer usage" is incorrect, I suggest an alternative. My reason for doing so is that the customers of your trucks are not being used; rather, the trucks are. I therefore suggest the following:

I am currently studying the patterns of truck usage by our customers.

Or

I am developing a profile of how the customers who buy our trucks use them.

You can then add the following:

We are interested in variables such as distances driven, fuel consumption, the number of years they keep their trucks, and the number of our trucks they have in their fleets.

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Thank you. I'm looking for a short title, so I think "Vehicle usage" would be ideal. –  Nicolas May 3 '13 at 13:05
    
Can you point us to an authority that says that 'customer' when used as a noun modifier is restricted to the meaning 'of customers' and not the broader 'pertaining to / associated with customers' (which I can't see anything wrong with)? A football manager isn't a manager of a football. –  Edwin Ashworth May 3 '13 at 18:36
    
@EdwinAshworth: I'm sorry, but I don't follow you. In my defense, my answer is very much question-specific. I did not want to confuse a relative newbie by giving him or her a rule or rules that would cover many different scenarios, just the one the OP presented. I encourage you to give the OP a more detailed and authoritative answer. Keep in mind, though, I did not intend to be condescending in my answer, just a bit pragmatic. (See the OP's response three posts above.) –  rhetorician May 4 '13 at 2:14
    
Your first two sentences are inaccurate in implying that using customer as a premodifier is only licensed if it is the customers who are being used rather than doing the using. "Restrooms For Customer Use Only" and "This issue, customer usage profiling through customer questionaires" are from early relevant Google hits. (Though of semantically correct alternatives, I certainly prefer your suggestions on style grounds.) Confusion occurs when we label less attractive but allowable versions as incorrect. –  Edwin Ashworth May 4 '13 at 11:34
    
@EdwinAshworth: You're right. I went off half-cocked. Thank you. –  rhetorician May 4 '13 at 15:31

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