The verb PAY and some phrasal verbs with PAY –
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The verb PAY and some phrasal verbs with PAY


We pay when we give money in exchange for something we buy, goods or services.


  • I’ll be paid at the end of the month.
  • How much did you pay for this beautiful suit?
  • I pay my taxes every year.


  • present simple: pay, pays
  • present continuous: am/is/are + paying
  • past: paid (past simple), paid (past participle)
  • future: will pay

There are also some additional meanings:

  1. Something gives an advantage to someone/something
  • A. Laziness doesn’t pay. It is negative because laziness doesn’t give us an advantage (or benefit)
  • B. It pays to have a good heart. Having a good heart provides an advantage


  1. to give something like attention or respect
  • A. Please pay attention to the teacher! You give attention
  • B. I’m here to pay respects to my parents. You give your respect to someone

Phrasal verbs:

  1. pay for
  • when you purchase/buy something, you must give money in exchange

How much would you pay for that dress?

  • when you are punished for something or suffer the consequences of something you did

If I don’t start eating healthier, I’ll probably pay for it later.

You shall pay for cheating in the exam. (ON the exam – Amerian English) –suffer the consequences  for cheating

I drank too much coffee and I am paying for it right now. – maybe I cannot sleep so I am suffering a consequence

  1. pay off
  • when you finish paying a debt, (finish making the payments)

(for something expensive like a house or a car, when you do not pay the whole amount at once)

It took me less than 1 year to pay off car insurance.

I finally paid off my car!

When will she pay off her health insurance?

  • When somebody bribes someone (e.g. the police)

He paid off the immigration officials and brought his family in the country.

  • When an action resulted in success or profit

Studying hard paid off in the end when I finally entered to the best university.


  1. pay out
  • it is just distributing or giving (e.g. money…)

The company has paid out my health insurance during these years.


  1. pay up
  • when money is demanded (money you owe…)

When can you pay up the money you owe me?

  1. pay back
  • to return (money or something else, a favour…) owed to someone

 I’ll pay you back when I get my wage/salary.

 You haven’t paid me back, yesterday I paid the meal for you!

I borrow you $5 if you pay me back tomorrow.


  1. pay in
  • to give money, not the whole amount, but in installments.

I can’t afford this house, can I pay in installments?


  1. pay down
  • the payments reduce the debt through

I am going to pay down my student loan with this money.