A friend claims that the phrase for free is incorrect. Should we only say at no cost instead?
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All the sentences are correct.
Reasonable paraphrasings of the word free in this context are for nothing/for no payment. Clearly the word "for" can't be omitted from those paraphrasings. Thus many people will say that for free equates to for for free, so they feel it's ungrammatical.
Many people use the expression (at least informally), so it seems futile to take issue with it - though more "careful" advertising copywriters do still tend to avoid it.
I don't know if it was David Crosby or Joni Mitchell who wrote the lyrics to He Played Real Good for Free that she sings so well, but I can't imagine dropping the word "for" there.
For free is an informal phrase used to mean "without cost or payment."
The phrase is correct; you should not use it where you are supposed to only use a formal sentence, but that doesn't make a phrase not correct.
I believe the puzzle comes from the common but mistaken belief that prepositions must have noun-phrase object complements. Since for is a preposition and free is an adjective, the reasoning goes, there must be something wrong. The fact is that even the most conservative of dictionaries, grammars, and usage books allow for constructions like although citizens disapprove of the Brigade's tactics, they yet view them as necessary or it came out from under the bed. That is, they tacitly accept prepositions with non-object complements while claiming that all prepositions must be transitive.
A more coherent view is that prepositions, like nouns, adjectives, and verbs take a variety of complements. In the case of for, one of them is free.
The first response to this question (above, at the top) made me chuckle. It states, "How about it being correct because many people use it, and that's how languages evolve. – Jonathan. Aug 16
Well, Jonathan, how about it NOT being correct simply because many people use it? Yes, languages evolve, but they shouldn't de-volve.
Another comment, above, mentioned that this phrase is acceptable in advertising circles. True, it is, and all the more shame heaped upon it's usage. Advertisers now use this syntactical abomination freely, as they carelessly appeal to our lower natures, and matching intellects.
Sean, above, wrote, "free is just a placeholder for $0." I disagree, and this is the point.
The term 'for' must be used with a commodity.
The use of a commodity, such as 'five dollars', can be correctly phrased, "for five dollars". It's an amount. But the term 'free' denotes the ABSENCE of a commodity.
'Free' denotes amountlessness.
The only phrase that comes close, and is in fact correct, is: for nothing.
Would you ever use the phrase, "for expensive"? No. You wouldn't.
All uses of the word 'for' in front of the word 'free' are just plain wrong.
Additionally, it sounds ridiculous and makes you seem uneducated, unless you're talking to another uneducated person, in which case, they talk that way too, so they won't notice or couldn't care that your English is compromised.
I could go on, so I won't.
"Free" in an economic context, is short for "free of charge." As such, it is correct.
Of course it means different things (like "liberated") in other contexts.
The phrase is generally inaccurate. If you have to buy one to get the next one for free, it wasn't actually free. Same with items you receive for filling out a survey.
"At no cost" is usually more accurate in that it indicates you will not have to pay money for the item.
However the use of free is widely accepted to mean at no monetary cost. Its use is acceptable in advertising or speech and its use is understood to mean no monetary cost. I would only change the use in a situation where clarity and accuracy were truly important, like in a contract.
protected by RegDwigнt♦ Mar 28 '12 at 19:24
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