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I have a list of savings, expressed in terms of the items that necessitate the original costs. For example, say that I have to purchase sewing material. My first question is: in expressing the amount of money required to obtain this material over the course of a year, should I say Sewing Material Cost or Sewing Material Costs?

In the act of purchasing material, there is a set cost per unit of product. However, when discussing the cumulative money spent on material in a year — the sum of multiple purchases — do you use the plural?

Now, I want to express the amount of money saved in my material purchasing expenses. I would say Savings of Material Costs (savings of material cost doesn't seem to make sense to me), which ultimately becomes Material Costs Savings. This, for some reason, seems weird to me.

Something resembling material costs savings is where I want to end up, but I'm not sure if my grammatical composition is correct.

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There's a little bit of ambiguity in the word "material"; it can mean "tangible" or "real", so "material cost" can be interpreted as "real cost" as opposed to "projected cost". (I do concede that most readers would only be confused for a second at most!) Also, "material" is colloquially used as a substitute for "cloth", so "material cost" might be interpreted as cloth only, without thread, buttons, etc. For both of these reasons, I would suggest the term materials cost. –  MT_Head Jun 22 '11 at 23:28
    
I know that "material cost" is perfectly valid, and indeed more commonly used - I just think that "materials cost" would be a (slightly) better choice here. –  MT_Head Jun 22 '11 at 23:30
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Cost is typically left without the s if there is only one purchase:

The cost of thread

Using costs here would imply more than one type of cost:

The costs of homeschooling

You can still say this without the s but the connotation shifts back to one solitary cost:

The cost of homeschooling

It is ambiguous whether these costs are monetary or emotional or something else. Referring to bundles of purchases will typically use costs:

Needle costs are rising

These are my needle costs

If you used cost here it would shift back into a description of needle markets or a single project's purchase:

Needle cost is rising

This my needle cost

The differences between cost and costs in these examples are subtle and could be entirely regional. One final note is referring to how much something costs. This will follow standard pluralization rules:

The book costs $4

The books cost $4

To directly answer your question, I would use costs: Sewing Material Costs. Variations:

Sewing Material Costs — the money spent on sewing material over multiple purchases

Sewing Materials Cost — the amount required to buy "sewing materials"

Sewing Materials Costs — the amount spend on sewing materials over multiple purchases


Savings is most typically plural in the sense that you are using it:

Our savings on needles are significant

These are my coupon savings

I have $300 in savings

What you want to do is replace "coupon" in the second example with "Material Costs":

Material Costs Savings — the savings on "material costs"

The use of "costs savings" is probably what makes this seem strange. The idea that you are accumulating savings through costs is counter-intuitive. But you aren't saving through costs, you are saving on costs. The alternatives are not quite what you are looking for:

Material Cost Savings — the savings on the price of "material"

Materials Cost Savings — the savings on the price of "materials"

These don't make much sense to me. I don't think "savings" works well with "cost".

Materials Costs Savings — the savings on "materials costs"

This works but the extra plural is even more distracting. This form would work better with other objects, however:

Needle Costs Savings

Car Costs Savings

You can to try to use a hyphen to reduce the awkwardness:

Material-Costs Savings

But I would just stick with Material Costs Savings.

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'Material costs savings' is perfectly valid, but it is also semantically dense. There is a lot of information in a few words. You might consider spacing it out a little to let it breathe. However, that depends on your purpose. To give an example of what I am talking about, you might say "total cost savings on all of the material purchases." This is a lot more words, but spaces out the meaning a little, and makes it easier to understand.

Regarding "sewing material cost" verses "sewing material costs"; both are correct, but have difference emphases. The first looks at the cost as a whole, the second looks at each of the costs individually. The "sewing material cost" might be "$250", the "sewing material costs" might be "$15 for silk, $25 for cotton, $5 for black thread" and so forth.

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If you have a list of line items that represent money you owe or must pay, those are "costs", related to whatever the topic of the list happens to be. A "cost" is just one of those things, or referred to in general as "the cost" ("cost" can be both a countable and uncountable noun in this regard). So, if you have line items for muslin, cotton duck, satin, etc. those are Sewing Material Costs.

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There is nothing wrong with "Material cost savings" as a synonym for "savings in material costs".

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