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I am helping a PhD student who makes constant reference to an Internet application he is studying by using a string of noun phrases, specifically

...its ease of use, general applicability and free of charge

By free of charge he obviously means it costs the user nothing, but it doesn't fit with the sentence grammar.

My question is how do you turn free of charge, which is adjectival, into a noun phrase? The freedom of charge is just wrong, and though free accessability works it also has another distracting meaning. Turning free into a gerund doesn't help in this case either.

In previous cases I've suggested to him a restucturing of the sentence grammar, but I'd be interested to hear some better suggestions.

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Rather than shoehorning the phrase into the existing grammar, I would rewrite the sentence to read:

which is easy to use, generally applicable, and free of charge.

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Or if you wanted to keep the coordinate structure, you could just say "..its ease of use, general applicability, and lack of cost". See also this paper. – John Lawler Jan 31 '12 at 22:00
I remember freeware that rendered it like this: "...ease of use, general applicability, and low price. (Like, free.)" Then there's this. – Gnawme Jan 31 '12 at 22:37
You are of course right. The problem is the student used this style of sentence repeatedly, and on some occasions the shoehorn was easier than the rewrite (he is not a native speaker of English so at times the constructions are confused). And thanks, 'lack of cost' (with a qualifying proviso that made it clear that the lack of cost was to the user) also worked well. – user17627 Feb 5 '12 at 1:33

If I was just saying it once, I'd probably say "... and the fact that it is available free of charge ..." But some people object to the phrase "the fact that".

Another possibility is "zero cost", as in, "... its ease of use, general applicability, and zero cost ...".

"Free availability" is possible but may not be clear.

I don't think there is a noun phrase corresponding to "free of charge". "Freedom of charge"? Umm ... no. "Freedom from charge"? Maybe, but I don't think anyone says that.

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I like the 'freedom from charge' suggestion as it captures the distinction between being free to the user versus free for the provider (which in the student's context is quite an important consideration) – user17627 Feb 5 '12 at 1:27
@Jim: Good point. "Zero cost" could be interpreted to mean that it costs the seller nothing, but they might still charge the customer for it. As often happens, interpretation may depend on context. – Jay Feb 6 '12 at 15:29

Free availability seems to be closest, or if you think that might be taken to mean 'easy availability', you could try availability gratis.

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I thought of "free availability" too, but if given without further explanation, a reader might think it means "easy to find", like available in any Wal-Mart, rather than available at no charge. – Jay Feb 1 '12 at 21:29

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