My friend and I are debating whether or not "costed" should be used in a particular sentence.

"I wonder how much it costed to get all of that paint on."

I understand "costed" to be used when something like "priced" or "valued" would work, like

"He costed the vacation to be somewhere around three thousand dollars"

meaning he calculated the cost of the trip. I don't think that using "costed" in the first sentence serves that purpose. In response to these thoughts, my friend said this:

Verb: cost; 3rd person present: costs; past tense: cost; past participle: cost; gerund or present participle: costing; past tense: costed; past participle: costed

When I questioned him again, he said:

"'Costed' is inflected for the dummy pronoun 'it' which is coreferential with the infinitive phrase 'to get all of that text painted on.' 'To cost' is a transitive verb where the agent is the thing being purchased, which is 'it'. Have you only ever used 'to cost' as a where the thing being purchased is a patient?"

As you may be able to tell, my friend is a bit more linguistically inclined than I am, and I don't really understand what this whole thing means. Can someone translate, and tell me if he's right?

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    "I wonder how much it costed to get all of that paint on." Hmm... why not ask. "How much did it cost please?" (answer) "It cost £50". The simple past tense of 'cost' is 'cost' (not 'costed'). – Dan Mar 7 '17 at 0:20
  • I don't blame you for not knowing what he means with that—the last two sentences make no sense, and the first one is complete nonsense. There is only one past tense verb in English that inflects according to its subject, and that's was/were. Cost(ed) is inflected for past tense, nothing else, and whether the subject is an agent or a patient is completely irrelevant to what its past tense is. The past tense is optionally costed when it means “estimate the cost of”; in all other cases, its past tense is only cost. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 7 '17 at 0:28

Like you said, costed is only used with that one sense of the word. This is backed by several dictionaries.

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary:

In sense 4 costed is used for the past tense and past participle.

  1. (costed, costed) [usually passive] to estimate how much money will be needed for something or the price that should be charged for something

OED (in the fine print):

  1. trans. To estimate, calculate, or set the cost of. Also with out or up.
    In this sense the usual past tense and past participle form is costed (not cost), and (unlike in other senses) use in the passive is frequent and regular.

The explanation you were given is mostly a red herring (as it is irrelevant)... To nitpick, he's mostly correct, but it is just a pronoun (not a dummy pronoun). It cannot be both a dummy pronoun (which is an example of a "pleonastic use") and coreferential:

Pleonastic uses are not considered referential, and so are not part of coreference.


The above is true for Standard English. In other dialects, costed may be commonly used as the past and past participle for cost, e.g Southern Mountain Dialect or inner city Sydney English.


You would never structure sentences in that way as costed is not a word in English that You can use for current tense. You would say It, "would cost, did cost or should cost", unless You say, "has costed", but, the word is already past, present and future tensive. The definition of cost references a past or future loss of denomination, value, or current need. e.g. (search past tensive verbs ending in ed ) In this structure of sentance cost is object noun e.g. As a person place or thing.

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    This is utterly wrong. Costed certainly is a word: it is the past tense and past participle of the verb cost in the senses cited in the question. What isn't a word in English is tensive in the sense that you're using it here: it means ‘stretching’, not ‘related to grammatical tense’. And your examples all use the infinitive of cost, not the past tense. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 9 '17 at 5:23
  • I suppose " by current tense" you mean present tense. As for tensive verb I couldn't find any supported definition apart from this entry, books.google.it/… but it seems that the author has created that term adhoc. – Mari-Lou A Mar 9 '17 at 8:40
  • Google.com, past tensive verb ending in ed, shows as a point of fact that any word that has ed added to itself is no longer a noun, it is from that point on a verb. Websters' Dictionary offers definitions. Google it. The sentance structuring could not have changed the fact that He was attempting to use a verb as a noun. – Charles McCoy Mar 9 '17 at 22:50
  • Merriam -Webster on line has the adjective or word "tensive" defined as having to or be of relation to tension. The word was established in early 1500. In the first sentance the author was creating tension by using an action word in verb form in the place of a descripive word in noun form. – Charles McCoy Mar 10 '17 at 2:36

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