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Are all these questions and their answers possible?

a) How much costs this book? -> Ten dollars costs this book. (Ten dollars as a singular subject, the price).

b) How much costs this book? -> Ten dollars cost this book. (Ten dollars as a plural subject).

c) How much does it cost this book? -> This book costs ten dollars. (Ten dollars as an object)

d) How much does this book cost? -> This book costs ten dollars. (Same as the one above).

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  • Welcome! We really like it if you help us out by explaining what has you confused about this and which you think are correct and which are incorrect.
    – Catija
    May 19, 2015 at 17:46
  • No. Only one of these questions and one of these answers is grammatical. But you probly knew that already. Aren't you interested in why? May 19, 2015 at 18:00
  • There's a good summary in the 'Is this a direct object or predicate complement?' thread. But @John Lawler doesn't explain why the commercial transaction verb 'cost' is afforded special syntax there; his linked article contains almost 50 pages. Though he does state in his comment that in 'This book costs ten dollars.' ten dollars is not an object. May 19, 2015 at 18:20
  • Hi, @JohnLawler. Yes, I am interested. I would appreciate your comments.
    – GMC
    May 19, 2015 at 18:49
  • @GMC: Then tell us where these came from and why you are asking about them. They're full of mistakes and very puzzling. If you are making up an exam, you should know better; if you are taking one, it's a pretty dumb exam. May 19, 2015 at 20:03

1 Answer 1

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Cost = to require the payment of (in this context)

This book costs ten dollars. = This book requires the payment of ten dollars. The understanding of the exact meaning of the word 'cost' shall help us figure out its proper usage.

A question to enquire about its cost would begin with 'How much'. When a sentence begins with 'How much', an ESL student may proceed from the affirmative sentence, "This book costs ten dollars" and frame the question as follows:

"How much this book costs?".

But an interrogative sentence will have to be re-written as

"How much does this book cost?"

Why? Here's the rule: How much + auxiliary (do/does/did/will) + subject/pronoun + infinitive

Framing a question this way may be unique to English, which may pose a challenge to a foreign student.

Your other forms, both questions and answers, are therefore incorrect, grammatically.

However, "How much does it cost... this book?" may be okay in the informal/spoken language.

I tried!

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