I am helping a PhD student who makes constant reference to an Internet application he is studying by using a string of noun phrases, specifically

...its ease of use, general applicability and free of charge

By free of charge he obviously means it costs the user nothing, but it doesn't fit with the sentence grammar.

My question is how do you turn free of charge, which is adjectival, into a noun phrase? The freedom of charge is just wrong, and though free accessability works it also has another distracting meaning. Turning free into a gerund doesn't help in this case either.

In previous cases I've suggested to him a restucturing of the sentence grammar, but I'd be interested to hear some better suggestions.

  • ... the fact that it is free. May 21, 2019 at 14:19
  • 1
    ... its being free of charge.
    – jsw29
    May 21, 2019 at 15:15
  • freedom of charge is not wrong, it just sounds odd to you
    – Toothrot
    May 21, 2019 at 16:48

6 Answers 6


Rather than shoehorning the phrase into the existing grammar, I would rewrite the sentence to read:

which is easy to use, generally applicable, and free of charge.

  • 4
    Or if you wanted to keep the coordinate structure, you could just say "..its ease of use, general applicability, and lack of cost". See also this paper. Jan 31, 2012 at 22:00
  • I remember freeware that rendered it like this: "...ease of use, general applicability, and low price. (Like, free.)" Then there's this.
    – Gnawme
    Jan 31, 2012 at 22:37
  • 1
    You are of course right. The problem is the student used this style of sentence repeatedly, and on some occasions the shoehorn was easier than the rewrite (he is not a native speaker of English so at times the constructions are confused). And thanks, 'lack of cost' (with a qualifying proviso that made it clear that the lack of cost was to the user) also worked well.
    – user17627
    Feb 5, 2012 at 1:33

If I was just saying it once, I'd probably say "... and the fact that it is available free of charge ..." But some people object to the phrase "the fact that".

Another possibility is "zero cost", as in, "... its ease of use, general applicability, and zero cost ...".

"Free availability" is possible but may not be clear.

I don't think there is a noun phrase corresponding to "free of charge". "Freedom of charge"? Umm ... no. "Freedom from charge"? Maybe, but I don't think anyone says that.

  • I like the 'freedom from charge' suggestion as it captures the distinction between being free to the user versus free for the provider (which in the student's context is quite an important consideration)
    – user17627
    Feb 5, 2012 at 1:27
  • @Jim: Good point. "Zero cost" could be interpreted to mean that it costs the seller nothing, but they might still charge the customer for it. As often happens, interpretation may depend on context.
    – Jay
    Feb 6, 2012 at 15:29

Free availability seems to be closest, or if you think that might be taken to mean 'easy availability', you could try availability gratis or, as S Conroy suggests, cost-free availability..

  • I thought of "free availability" too, but if given without further explanation, a reader might think it means "easy to find", like available in any Wal-Mart, rather than available at no charge.
    – Jay
    Feb 1, 2012 at 21:29
  • 1
    I just answered cost-free availability, but deleted as the answer is too similar to this one. Perhaps putting the 'cost' in front of 'free'' could avoid ambiguity.
    – S Conroy
    May 21, 2019 at 13:59

I like "freedom of charge". It sounds jocularly for me. Unfortunately, I am not a native speaker of English and I wish I knew English better.


Perhaps one option could be to use the term "gratis"…


  • This doesn't answer the question that was asked, however, which is for a noun phrase.
    – choster
    May 23, 2019 at 10:51
  • Which part of "perhaps" and "could be" did you fail to grasp? I'm simply trying to offer a practical solution to the problem cited by the asker, rather than addressing the grammatically-obsessed nature of the query.
    – user218195
    May 27, 2019 at 9:20

How about "exemption from paymnet." I am not a native speaker of English, and I've stumbled on this link while looking for a nominal phrase with this meaning.

  • I think "exemption from payment" would have people wondering exactly who was exempt. May 21, 2019 at 13:59
  • 1
    If the cost of something is zero, there is no payment to exempt, and if something is being exempted, it is the customer, not the product.
    – choster
    May 21, 2019 at 14:00

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