Thursday, October 11, 2012

Collocations: spend and waste

Both verbs spend and waste are related to time and money, but there is a big difference in meaning:
  • You can spend your money on things, but if you buy more than is necessary or things that are not useful, you are wasting your money. She has spent a lot of money on her wedding dress. (and she thinks that’s money well spent). She wastes lots of money on clothes she doesn´t need. (that money is not well spent)
  • Likewise, you can spend time doing something, which is possitive, but if you feel that the time passes in a negative, unproductive manner, then you’re wasting your time. You spend a lot of hours watching TV and I think you are wasting your time. Go on, do something useful!
Picture by 401(K) 2012
So, both spend and waste can form collocations with words related to money and time. Here are a few: spend your free time, the day, the weekend, an hour, a fortune, thousands,...

Apart from these, they can also be found in other collocations which are not related to time or money:

  • Waste an opportunity. Never waste an opportunity to say “I love you” to someone you really like.
  • Spend (a lot of) effort. You spend too much effort on things that are not important.

Waste is also a noun that refers to an unusuable or unwanted substance or material. In this case, we can find expressions such as: industrial waste, nuclear waste, waste disposal, waste pipes,...
A Complete Waste of Time
There are also some idioms and proverbs:
  • Waste one’s breath: to waste time talking trying to persuade someone.  Don’t waste your breath, you’re not going to make me change my mind.
  • Waste not, want not is a proverb which means that if you use your resources wisely, you will never be poor or needy.
  • Go to waste: to be unused and therefore thrown away. If you don’t eat the meat in your fridge today, it will go to waste.
  • A waste of space: a thing or person that is not useful. Her husband is a complete waste of space.
  • Spend a penny means to go to the toilet. In England, public toilets for ladies used to have coin operated locks, and if someone wanted to use them they had to introduce a penny coin in the slot. This idiom is a bit old-fashioned these days.
Penny slot toilet door lock

Finally, let’s watch an excerpt from Fawlty Towers that always comes to my mind when I hear the expression “a waste of space”. Poor Manuel! Always being bossed around by Basil!

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