Spend time/money on

We use the preposition on when we talk about spending time or money. We say spend money on something and spend time on something.

In the US, it is common to replace on with for:

spend money for something.

Spend on: examples

Notice how on is followed by a noun in each example:

  • Political parties spend millions on their campaigns.
  • The school spent its annual budget on computers and technology.
  • My daughter spends too much time on her homework; she should go out more often.

spend money spend time

Spend time doing or spend time on doing?

If we use a verb to express the activity – to say what we were doing – we don’t use a preposition, and we put the verb in the –ing form.

Let’s take a look at two examples, using little Tommy, who loves computer games but not school:

  • Tommy spends too much time playing computer games.
    on playing
  • Tommy spends most of his time in class staring out of the window.
    on staring

What other verbs can we use with time/money on?

We also say waste money/time on something and save money/time on something.

Again, if you use a verb after waste time, put it in the –ing form.

Back to little Tommy for the last example:

  • Tommy wastes hours playing computer games.
  • Tommy’s parents have wasted a lot of money on his computer games.

At least that’s what his parents think. Tommy would probably disagree.

Stuart is an English teacher and runs the Speakspeak website. He currently lives in Prague and has been teaching for over 20 years. Follow Stuart and contact him by subscribing to his monthly newsletter.

1 Comment

  1. Rodrigo Santana - December 30, 2014, 4:17 pm Reply

    Dear Stuart
    Congratulations for your website.
    I’m from Brazil and I have just found the site. It’ll be very usefull for me.
    Best regards
    Rodrigo

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