I've just found these two examples about the use of the verb to afford:

I would like to be able to afford a new car next year, so I won't be going away for the holidays.

With the salary I earn, I can't imagine ever being able to afford to buy my own house.

In the first sentence, the writter used only the verb to afford, but in the second one, he uses to afford to buy.

Is it relevant for the meaning of the second sentence to add the verb to buy? Would he convey the same message using only to afford?

Thanks in advance.

  • It is simply that the words "to buy" have been elided in the first sentence, as they could well be in the second. The only point in including them is for clarification purposes, that I didn't mean "Whilst I could afford the purchase cost, I could not afford to run my own house/car"
    – WS2
    Feb 22, 2018 at 12:49
  • There's a subtle difference (whether intentional or not) between being able to afford a thing: "a car" -- and being able to afford to perform an action: "to buy". The first directly involves money / finances. The other usage may involve things other than finances, such as time, emotional or physical stresses, and so on. That's because to buy is a process or activity which often enough includes important aspects besides simply writing a check.
    – Bread
    Feb 22, 2018 at 13:01
  • Being able to afford a thing (like a car), requires only money. But being able to afford to buy a thing (like a house or car or dress, etc.), can involve many factors besides money alone. The latter usage is figurative rather than literal. For example, "I can't afford to lose you" is most often a declaration of an emotional state, rather than a literal statement.
    – Bread
    Feb 22, 2018 at 13:04

1 Answer 1


The to buy could be left out of the second sentence without much changing its meaning.

The word afford means (depending a little on context) spare the resources for something; those resources needn’t be, though usually are, financial, but can also refer to a cost in stamina, or reputation. There is sometimes a degree of volition involved, in which case it’s a synonym for brook (sense 2, tolerate).

In general think of can afford as meaning can stand the cost of, in whatever sense of cost.

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