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32 Ways to Use the Verb PAY

Hi dear English learners! Have you paid a compliment to someone recently? If you want to find out what this expression means, keep on reading. Today, we will be learning collocations, phrasal verbs and idioms using the verb PAY. This verb usually has to do with money, but not necessarily. We can use it in collocations such as pay attention or pay a visit, which have nothing to do with money or paying. So, let’s learn 32 different ways to use the verb pay.

Collocations using PAY

  • Mark paid Sara a compliment for a lovely dinner. (he told her that she’s a good cook)
  • We have to find time to pay a visit to William. He’s in hospital (to visit him.)
  • Pay attention to what I’m going to tell you now! (listen carefully)
  • They are required to pay for the damage. (they have to pay)
  • I’m afraid we can’t afford to pay so much. (we don’t have enough money)
  • We made a welcoming pie to pay respect to our new neighbours. 
  • They gathered to pay tribute to the people who died in the mine accident. (to honour and praise)
  • We paid dearly for our new car. (we paid a lot)
  • Clare has a well-paid/low-paid job. 
  • Everyone should know that crime doesn’t pay.

Prepositions we use with the verb pay are for and to.

  • They didn’t pay much for the house.
  • We pay rent to the landlord every month.
32 Ways to Use the Verb PAY
32 Ways to Use the Verb PAY

Phrasal verbs using PAY

Pay back

To pay back something means to repay the money you borrowed from someone.

  • Andy was determined to pay back the money he borrowed from his parents.
  • Take some time to consider your budget and don’t spend more than you can afford to pay back.

Pay down

To pay down means to pay a debt over a period of time.

  • We won’t be able to go on holiday until we pay down the mortgage.
  • The governments have to pay down national debts.

Pay in/into

If you pay in or into, you pay money in a bank account.

  • I went to the bank this morning to pay some money in my account.
  • Daniel was regularly paying into a private pension plan. He planned to retire early.

Pay off

To pay off means to have a successful outcome.

  • Their hard work finally paid off. They graduated from college.
  • It was courageous to invest in that business but it paid off in the end.

Pay out

To pay out means to pay a large amount of money to someone.

  • Ryan had to pay out $600 to get his driving licence back.
  • The insurance company paid him out $50,000 after the accident.

Pay up

If you paid up something, then you paid an entire sum of money you owed.

  • The bank gave him 3 years to pay up an entire sum he borrowed.
  • I couldn’t pay up the rent for this week but the landlady agreed to forget it if I mow the grass.

Pay up front 

To pay up front for something means to pay in advance.

  • They asked us to pay up front a certain sum of money when we were buying a house.
  • When you book a holiday over this website, they ask you to pay up front  20% of the full price before you buy it.
32 Ways to Use the Verb PAY
32 Ways to Use the Verb PAY

Idioms using PAY

Pay/cost an arm and a leg

If something costs an arm and a leg, then it must be very expensive.

  • Do we have to stay in this hotel? I don’t want to pay an arm and a leg just for accommodation.  
  • We went to buy some new furniture but didn’t buy anything. Everything cost an arm and a leg in that shop.

Pay your dues

If you pay your dues, then you worked hard for it and therefore deserved it. It also means to be punished for something.

  • Harry worked hard in the past 40 years and paid his dues. Now he can retire.
  • Our neighbour spent three years in prison. He had to pay his dues for not paying taxes.

Pay over the odds

If you pay over the odds, then you pay more than it’s worth.

  • Many people pay over the odds when buying real estate abroad. They should get better informed about the prices before they consider buying.
  • I’m sure I paid over the odds but it was the only bicycle service in the area.

Pay through the nose

To pay through the nose means to pay too much money for something.

  • Make sure you don’t buy travel insurance from that travel agent or you’ll pay through the nose.
  • Some people pay through the nose to live in this city. Everything is so expensive.

Pay for itself

If you invest in something which pays for itself, it means that you saved money by buying it because it will save energy, time, or similar in return.

  • Solar panels system is a bit pricey but it will pay for itself in energy saved.
  •  It doesn’t cost that much to get an environmentally-friendly vehicle which will also pay for itself in a couple of years.

Pay good money for something

If you paid good money for something, then you spend a lot of money on it.

  • We paid good money for a new TV. They said it has some great features.
  • The tourists pay good money to go inside the old church.

He who pays the piper calls the tune

This idiom means that the person who provides the money is to decide what will be done with it.

  • Well, the company pays for our holiday, so we shouldn’t complain about anything, because he who pays the piper calls the tune.
  • I know it’s old-fashioned, but don’t you agree that he who pays the piper calls the tune?

Pay top dollar

This is an American expression that means to pay a lot of money.

  • That company paid top dollar to be located in the city centre.
  • When we were in Paris, we paid top dollar to have an eight-course dinner in the most luxurious restaurant.

Pay court to somebody

To pay court to somebody is another old-fashioned expression meaning to show a lot of interest in somebody and pay too much attention to them in order to be noticed or liked.

  • Sara encouraged Gary to pay court to Gloria because she thought they had a lot in common.
  • I suggest you ask for Sir Montague’s permission to pay court to his daughter.

Rob Peter to pay Paul

If you rob Piter to pay Paul, then you borrow money from someone to pay back the money you owe to another person.

  • They struggled to keep their business going by robbing Peter to pay Paul. They borrowed money from one bank to pay it back to another.
  • I’m sure that there is no use in robbing Peter to pay Paul because, in the end, we’ll still owe the money.
32 Ways to Use the Verb PAY

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