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Is it correct to use the expression "consolidate cost" when you add cost figures in a specific period of time? The context is a description of what a piece of code is doing:

consolidate cost over several periods

I've found the following definition of consolidate:

to bring together (separate parts) into a single or unified whole; unite; combine: They consolidated their three companies.

But a Google search for "consolidate cost" only returns 12 600 results which is usually an indication of a wrong usage.

  • Better, "consolidate the costs" (21,200 results): "#Obamacare is going to consolidate the costs" - Twitter; "We also had to fully consolidate the costs associated with administration" ... – Kris Jan 15 '13 at 9:39
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    Try "consolidate costs", plural, and you'll get very different results; in accounting one consolidates two or more things from different categories under one heading. The result, however, may be described as consolidated cost, in the singular, or consolidated costs, in the plural. – StoneyB on hiatus Jan 15 '13 at 9:39
  • @StoneyB In the context, it's a verb, not an adj., right? – Kris Jan 15 '13 at 9:40
  • Consolidated, with the d, is a past (passive) participle, which is both a verb and an adjective, just as in French. – StoneyB on hiatus Jan 15 '13 at 9:42
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As far as business is concerned, to consolidate cost is not an incorrect usage, only that as StoneyB suggested in the comments above, it would be more appropriate to use the plural of cost since you will be bringing together different cost figures for a specific period of time.

However, the term costs usually refers to various accounts and if you wish to be specific you could say, for example, to consolidate salary costs or consolidation of transport costs.

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