I know that we usually say "how much does it cost" when asking for a price.

But today, I heard someone said "how much are the kidney beans?" in a store, and I don't think it's correct.

Does "How much are the kidney beans?" equal "How much do the kidney beans cost?"?

  • 2
    Yes, they mean the same thing, and it’s perfectly correct. See the ODO definition of the verb be (sense 3.1). In fact, especially with a specific subject, it is by far the more common of the two ways to ask for a price: “How much are the kidney beans?” is much more common than “How much do the kidney beans costs?”. Note that questions that can be answered by a simple dictionary lookup are considered off-topic here. Commented Nov 3, 2018 at 16:48
  • @Janus Bahs Jacquet - “How much do the kidney beans costs?” - Of course you meant "cost" (plural) there. Commented Nov 3, 2018 at 19:20
  • @MichaelHarvey Bugger! Yes, costs was a typo; curse that five-minute edit window. Commented Nov 3, 2018 at 20:38

1 Answer 1



The Oxford English Dictionary, in its definition of be, has:

3 [as copular verb] Having the state, quality, identity, nature, role, etc., specified.

3.1 Cost.

‘the tickets were £25’

In the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary, the definition of be includes:

13 linking verb + noun to cost

“How much is that dress?” “Eighty dollars.”

The first popular culture reference that springs to mind is “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?”.

  • +1 for the doggie in the window - the first thing I thought of when I saw the question. Commented Nov 3, 2018 at 16:58

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