Tell me please if it is apt to use the phrasal verb in the following conext.

The tablet was expensive, but I don't regret buying it, because it is paying off.

What I mean is that the tablet proved to be very useful and it benefits me. By the pronoun it I am referring to the tablet, not to the action of buying. If I referred to buying, would the pronoun this be more appropriate? For example:

The tablet was expensive, but I don't regret buying it, because this is paying off.

  • Hello, Dmytro. Are you asking about the use in general of 'paying off' (in which case the question may be closed because it shows no signs of research), or the validity of using 'it' with two different referents (the tablet, and (notionally) buying the tablet) , the it's being so close together? 'Misplaced modifiers' is a related topic and posts addressing this may also cover 'non-corresponding pronouns'. In speech, the 'it' in "because it's paying off" (note the contraction) would be under-emphasised, and this would differentiate the it's so much that IMHO few ... – Edwin Ashworth Jul 7 '19 at 11:13
  • people would think 'possibly ungrammatical'. 'This' sounds over-formal, highfalutin, in conversation: IMHO approaching 'error' status more closely. "The tablet was expensive, but I don't regret buying it - it's really paying off" probably pushes the conflicting-it issue further into the background, but I'd use "The tablet was expensive, but I don't regret buying it. Money well spent" (which really hides the it). – Edwin Ashworth Jul 7 '19 at 11:13
  • Do the sentences sound natural? – Dmytro O'Hope Jul 7 '19 at 11:17
  • In conversation? My first suggestion sounds more natural to my (aging British) ears, but "The tablet was expensive, but I don't regret buying it, because it's paying off" sounds reasonable (though IMHO a 'really' makes it more natural-sounding). [Woops. Forgot to convert a hyphen above to a dash in time. And another hyphen sneaked in.] – Edwin Ashworth Jul 7 '19 at 11:21
  • 1
    I just answered this question, which has the same issue with pronoun use. As there, here I would not personally interpret it as standing for the tablet, but for the action of buying it. It's somewhat unidiomatic to say that an object itself is paying off. (It is, however, ambiguous.) If you're concerned with ambiguity, rephrase the sentence and drop the pronoun. – Jason Bassford Jul 7 '19 at 17:49

pay off TFD a phrasal verb

  1. To result in profit or advantage; to succeed

As in:

X is/are paying off.

and your sentence:

The tablet was expensive, but it's paying off.

Here, you can drop the extra pronoun.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.