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What kind of starting pay do you have in mind?

I've learned the above sentence today.

But I don't understand how 'what kind of' comes with 'starting pay'.

I think using 'how much' looks more natural like this.

How much do you have in mind for the starting pay

Am I wrong?

2 Answers 2

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It's a perfectly acceptable idiom.

I can see why it sounds odd. It is not quite the same usage as in a sentence like, "What kind of dog is that?" If it was used like the dog example, answers to "What kind of starting pay...?" might be "Pitiful" or "Executive fat-cat level", ie genuinely different kinds of pay. But as you say, it is really another way of asking "How much will you pay me?"

My feeling - as a British English speaker - is that the idiom comes from the British embarrassment about talking about money. So in a job interview we really want to ask "How much money will you give me?", but this sounds gauche. So we use the idiom instead, to talk around it slightly.

It will be interesting to know if American English speakers use the same phrase, or whether they are more direct.

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"What kind of starting pay" is perfectly acceptable in American English. Asking "how much do you have in mind" is also correct, but it's little more blunt.

"What kind" is asking for an approximate answer, perhaps something like "Somewhere in the $60–75,000 range". "How much" is expecting a more specific answer, like "We are prepared to offer you $68,000".

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