Is "pay for the purchase" correct? Would it not mean something like "pay for the privilege of being able to buy something"? The context is a school newsletter and the phrase is as follows: "These funds were also used to pay for the purchase of an agenda for each student...". Thanks!

  • Don't overthink it.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 5, 2016 at 12:45
  • 1
    @HotLicks that's very much against the spirit of this forum isn't it? ;-) Apr 5, 2016 at 12:46
  • As a corollary to Max's answer, technically if you were to parse this sentence literally you're right: "paying for the purchase of" something would be exchanging money for the ability to buy it. Apr 5, 2016 at 12:47
  • The puzzle isn't the payment for the purchase. The puzzle is the purchase of agendas. :)
    – Lawrence
    Apr 5, 2016 at 13:19

2 Answers 2


"Pay for the purchase" is redundant, as "purchase" is a form of payment, so you've got two lots of paying in there. I would just say

"These funds were also used to purchase an agenda for each student..."


"These funds were also used to pay for an agenda for each student..."

The second option seems more natural to me but i think either is fine.

  • The only issue I have with your answer is it's unusual to "buy" an "agenda", so "pay for an agenda" is apt to be confusing. Your first wording makes it clearer that this is, in fact, what's being done, and it's not just a wording error.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 5, 2016 at 12:48
  • It's not redundant. A purchase on credit, for example, is paid for later.
    – MetaEd
    Apr 5, 2016 at 12:54
  • @MετάEd Hmm, good point. "Pay for the purchase" still sounds redundant to me though. Apr 5, 2016 at 12:58
  • @MετάEd Subtle distinction: a purchase on credit is paid for immediately, just not by the person making it. What is paid back later is the money the creditor put up for the item in place of the buyer. Apr 5, 2016 at 13:08
  • If pay for the purchase is indeed redundant, then these too are redundant phrases: my dad paid this month's rent; we fought a war; * we ate dinner ; * she said a few confucius' sayings *; *joined the weed-joint. Using a redundantly longer sentence to avoid a not-so-redundant situation, is a greater redundant sin. Apr 5, 2016 at 13:31

Technically, purchase refers to both the payment and the acquisition of what was paid for.

Purchase verb Acquire (something) by paying for it; buy - ODO

In common usage, however, purchase is sometimes used as a noun, for which the acquisition aspect of the transaction dominates. Consider this refund policy found via a web search (I am not knowingly affiliated with Quality Diam):

Please contact us if you are not satisfied with your purchase. We’ll let you know how to return your purchase. You may return the item in its original condition within 7 days of receiving it, for a full refund or an exchange. - QualityDiam

The purchase is said to be returnable in its original condition, with a full refund or exchange. This sounds very much like purchase is used as a reference (metonymic, perhaps) to the goods rather than the money.

Is "pay for the purchase" correct?

Given the above, the natural reading is that purchase was used as a noun that referred to whatever was acquired. In that case, the phrase is correct and refers to the payment for whatever was acquired.

  • But would not the usage of "purchase of an agenda" preclude that specific meaning? Purchase by itself, sure, but "purchase of something"?
    – PavelS
    Apr 5, 2016 at 13:59
  • @PavelS I can see your point, but the natural reading still favours taking purchase to mean the acquisition in that context, rather than having the sentence refer to paying a purchasing agent.
    – Lawrence
    Apr 5, 2016 at 14:37
  • @PavelS I had a discussion on this point, and Mr.ShinyandNew安宇 observed that since purchase follows the word the, it's not a verb there. So it's a noun in that context.
    – Lawrence
    Apr 5, 2016 at 15:05

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