paid out/ paid off

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paid out/ paid off

Post by dante » Sat Jan 09, 2010 10:37 pm

Hello everyone,

I've searched the web for the uses of "paid(something/somebody)out" and "pay(something/somebody)off" and I'd like to check with you if I'm correct that those two phrasal verbs can be used interchangeably in the situations as in the following examples:


1. He bought his friend's practice and paid him out/off in a year's time.

2. He paid off/out the debt in a year's time.

3. The prize he's won will be paid out/off in yearly installments.

I don't understand the excerpt from the book I've found on google books (http://books.google.com/books?id=AS2O2b ... ut&f=false):

"Should he cut them up now or later? Who got to do the girl? Did he want the crew paid off or paid out?

I don't understand the meaning "paid off or paid out" in the citation above, and reading the paragraph before the given passage didn't help either, I still don't understand the meaning. Any help is much appreciated.
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Re: paid out/ paid off

Post by trolley » Sun Jan 10, 2010 2:31 am

I think there are times when paid off/ paid out mean the same thing, but not always. Bills that are paid off are completely clear. There is nothing left owing. "I finally paid off my Visa bill." If you are talking about a debt, off and out would both work. A person or organization that has been paid off has been bribed or bought. That doesn't help much with your last example, though. Maybe it's "gang-speak". Do they want "to be paid off" (given money to shut-up about the event) or "paid out" (given a payment for making it happen). I have no opinion on which would be the better bargain.
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Re: paid out/ paid off

Post by hsargent » Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:13 am

I did not read any of the examples that seemed paid out was appropriate.

Paid off is a completion.

Paid out begs the question of paid out of what? This is an accounting expression. Paid out of the petty cash funds as an example.
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Re: paid out/ paid off

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun Jan 10, 2010 7:24 am

1) He bought his friend's practice and paid him off within a year.

2) He paid off the debt within a year.

3) The prize he's won will be paid out in yearly installments.

You pay off a debt; the focus here is on the payer gradually decreasing the amount they owe.

When a monetary prize is paid to a winner, it is paid out. The emphasis here is on the prize fund as a source of payments to the prizewinner(s).

"In a year's time" means the same thing as "a year from now". Logically, therefore, you cannot use it in relation to an action that has already occurred, as you did in 1) and 2).

In the sense which you intended, Dante, "within a year" is what you want.

I don't understand the instance you found in the book excerpt either. The only occurrence which springs to my mind and is possibly similar is that of Gordon the Big Engine in the Rev. A W Awdry's 'Thomas the Tank Engine' book series. Whenever he got furious about some slight to his dignity and vowed revenge on the guilty party, he had a tendency to exclaim "I'll pay him out!"

However, to my ear this usage would be regarded as pretty old-fashioned these days, assuming it was understood in the first place.
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Re: paid out/ paid off

Post by dante » Sun Jan 10, 2010 9:11 am

Thank you for the answers guys.
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Re: paid out/ paid off

Post by dante » Sun Jan 10, 2010 10:01 am

I'd like to give a grammar view on the phrase you gave to illustrate the use of "paid out" hsargent. In the phrase "paid out of the petty cash funds" the preposition "out" is the head of the prepositional phrase "out of the petty cash funds" which functions adverbially to the verb "paid", while "paid out" in, for example, "paid out the sum of money", is a single syntactic unit taking "the sum of money" as the direct object. That's how it's given in the explanations of this point in most traditional grammars. It is also one of the most debatable points in today's theory of the english language. As much as I can understand, modern linguistic theory,which upturned the very basic concepts of traditional grammar theory, is becoming a mainstream which is evident in many critics and reviews of Huddleston&Pullum's "Cambridge Grammar of the English Language" I've read on the net. Here's an interesting passage from an article I've found on the net, which touches upon the point of phrasal verbs being analyzed as a separate syntactic unit(http://linguistlist.org/issues/13/13-1853.html) :
As mentioned above, the Cambridge Grammar also differs from the Comprehensive Grammar in not allowing for multiple analyses. One example should suffice to illustrate the problem involved. In commenting on the concept of phrasal verbs (e.g. in 'He put in his application'), for example, Huddleston and Pullum write that they (i.e. 'put + in') "do not form syntactic constituents" and that "it is for this reason that we do not use the term 'phrasal verb' in this grammar" (p. 274). In contrast, the Comprehensive Grammar (cf. p. 1152) distinguishes between 'phrasal', 'prepositional' and 'phrasal-prepositional verbs', thus establishing a gradient of multi-word verbs with different strengths of linkage between the verb and the preposition. Also, the Comprehensive Grammar (cf. p. 1156)explicitly mentions two complementary analyses of verb-preposition combinations, so that a sentence like 'She looked after her son' can be analysed either as 'S-V-A' ('She - looked - after her son')or as 'S-V-O' ('She - looked after - her son'). To me, it seems to be a general weakness of the Cambridge Grammar not to allow for such multiple analyses nor to sketch out descriptive gradients in the first place. What is more, this self-imposed restriction to one particular analysis (which, I should add, may also be seen as a strength in that it helps to increase the overall theoretical stringency) is to some extent strangely at odds with the authors' statement that "the primary goal of this grammar is to describe the grammatical principles of Present-Day English rather to defend or illustrate a theory of grammar" (p. 18).
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Re: paid out/ paid off

Post by dante » Sun Jan 10, 2010 10:29 am

I know it's unusual to triple post here, but I failed to organize my thoughts well in the first place obviously :) I apologize for that.
I'd like you Erik to give a brief explanation of this part if possible because I'm not sure that I understand it completely:
When a monetary prize is paid to a winner, it is paid out. The emphasis here is on the prize fund as a source of payments to the prizewinner(s).
Some other examples of what can be "paid out" beside prizes would be helpful. I couldn't find on the net results similar to the following sentence although it sounds perfect to me, so I would like to know if any of those variations works :

1.I paid him out all the money I owed to him.

2.I paid out all the money I owed to him in time.

3. I paid all the money out to the bank and now I'm free of that loan I had been struggling with for years.

Thank you for the help.
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Re: paid out/ paid off

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun Jan 10, 2010 10:45 am

Regarding your question about paying out of a prize fund: think of the fund as a bowl that contains coins. When you pay someone with those coins, you pay them out of the bowl.

As for your other queries:

1) I paid him all the money I owed him.

2) I paid all the money I owed him in time.

3) I paid back (or repaid) all the money to the bank, and now I'm free of the loan I had been struggling with for [so many] years.

Often, as in the cases of 1) and 2) above, 'paid' suffices without any preposition.

Other situations where money is paid out can involve a legacy ("After Aunt Harriet's affairs were settled, her estate paid out a sum of £1000 annually to each of her three grandchildren"); a bookmaker ("When the favourite won in this year's Grand National, the bookies ended up paying out over £45,000,000 to the punters"; and the payment of damages or insurance ("General Accident has just paid out $6000 for the repairs to our roof"). There are probably other cases too, but I can't think of any more right now.
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Re: paid out/ paid off

Post by dante » Sun Jan 10, 2010 10:57 am

Thank you Erik.
I can say that this is a troublesome point for me. Adding a preposition to a verb can change the meaning in so many different ways and opens up so many levels and nuances of meaning.
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Re: paid out/ paid off

Post by dante » Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:19 am

I understand your point here Erik:
Regarding your question about paying out of a prize fund: think of the fund as a bowl that contains coins. When you pay someone with those coins, you pay them out of the bowl.
But, as I said in the post replying to the hsargent's example : "paid out of the petty cash fund", problem for me arises when "pay out" is used with "out" as part of the verb phrase rather than part of the prepositional phrase explaining the source of the payment. For example in:

1. I paid the car off out of my savings.

the preposition "out" clearly isn't related to the verb "paid" but rather forms the unit with the following phrase "of my savings"

I haven't made up the following example but it's illustrative for my point here ( if it makes sense of course :))

1. Course fees for Christmas break were paid out out of general funds

I hope I managed to make myself clearer a bit this time.
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Re: paid out/ paid off

Post by Wizard of Oz » Sun Jan 10, 2010 12:08 pm

.. dante we are talking about the crew of a ship .. some sailors are employed on contract to the captain/owner of the ship whereby at the end of the voyage they get a pay out based upon whether the trip is successful, eg trawling .. when they come ashore and finish they are said to be paid out .. they will then look for another ship .. other crews are payed on a regular wages basis normally by a shipping company .. they do a trip, come ashore, have leave then do another trip most likely on the same ship or a sister ship .. when these sailors come ashore they are said to be paid off as they will be on leave, often paid leave, before signing on again and going to sea again ..

.. so in the context of your quote it may be that they are deciding whether to dismiss the crew, ie pay them out or whether to just stand them down, ie pay them off ..

WoZ who was a wharfie {longshoreman to some}
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Re: paid out/ paid off

Post by dante » Sun Jan 10, 2010 4:52 pm

Thank you for the explanation WoZ.
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Re: paid out/ paid off

Post by Phil White » Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:20 pm

Coming in late to this one. Harry's first comment was valid, and repeated by several of the contributors. "Pay off" suggests final payment of a debt that may have been outstanding for some time. "Pay out" can usually be replaced by "pay" with no loss of meaning. WoZ's specialist meanings seem to be specific examples of this distinction from a particular register.

As far as the analysis is concerned, I fully agree with the commentator you quoted that Huddleston & Pullum rarely give space to variant analyses and I concur that this is a weakness in the grammar. Quirk et al still seems to me to be more coherent on this issue in particular. I find it strange that native speakers intuitively construct phrasal verbs and verb/preposition pairings correctly (it's one of those areas where there the language shows very little variance across dialects, sociolects and idiolects), but grammarians struggle to find clear and at the same time general guidelines. In Quirk's terminology, "pay off" is a phrasal verb (I'll stick my neck out and say "always"). "Pay out" on the other hand can be a phrasal verb (WoZ's examples are clearly so), but can also be a phrasal-prepositional or, if combined with "of" ("paid out of"), a simple verb + compound preposition. A rigid single analysis really doesn't help here.
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Re: paid out/ paid off

Post by trolley » Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:32 am

Maybe it’s a Canadianism, or something peculiar to the area I live in or the circle I travel in, but the term “paid out”, as Dante was using it, sounds perfectly fine. I would not think it was oddly constructed or pause for a second trying to figure out what was meant. I actually hear it used fairly often to mean exactly what “paid off” does. It’s not being paid out of (from) anything . Buying out or selling out get used the same way. I’m not buying out of something (the kindness of my heart?) or selling out of anything (the trunk of my car). The “out” is out to the limit. When I buy something out, I have purchased all of it. There is none left to buy. If I sell something out, there is none left to sell and if I pay someone out there is nothing left to pay. The debt is totally discharged. When he’s paid out, the debt is paid off and I can consider myself paid up.
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Re: paid out/ paid off

Post by dante » Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:21 pm

Hello again,

Thank you for the explanations Phil and Trolley.
When he’s paid out, the debt is paid off and I can consider myself paid up.
Your explanation is exactly how I understood the meaning of "pay out" trolley, which means that I'll not have problems in Canada with using "pay out" :)

I recently bought Huddleston's "A Student's Introduction to English Grammar" and it was a wrong investment for a few reasons :). First, it is a really condensed survey of the points which are,I guess, elaborated in details in the comprehensive version of the book. It has little helped me since I'm not familiar with the terminology and concepts introduced by these grammarians, immensely different from the concepts given in traditional grammars. I haven't read it thoroughly so it's still possible that I'll gain some insights on more careful reading of it (chances are slim though).
In the part related to phrasal verbs Huddleston & Pullum totally reject concepts established by Quirk and other grammarians, rejecting even the term "phrasal verbs" as thoroughly misleading. They use the term "verbal idioms" for phrasal verbs, and which was really surprising to me, the first example they take to explain "verbal idioms" is "kick the bucket", without differing such expressions with verbs taking prepositions or adverbs as complements like "come across" or "back down" which they mention later. Where Quirk had "phrasal verbs","prepositional verbs", "phrasal-prepositional verbs" and "free combinations of verb and prepositon/adverb", Huddleston&Pullum have "prepositional complement", a category combining all those terms into one. The prepositional verbs are "fossilized combinations of a verb and a preposition" which do not differ from free combinations of verbs and prepositions, only the use of the particular preposition is "specified by the head of the larger construction, by a verb,noun or adjective".It's neat explanation with only one flaw: it doesn't explain anything.:). I guess that it would be possible to explain any word in the English language in the same fashion.For example, I could say that the word "bark" is "specified" by the word "dog", since I can't imagine goose or an elephant barking.

I'd be at loss if someone asked me to apply this Huddleston&Pullum's concept in the analysis of sentences with the "verbal idiom" "paid out":

1. He has paid out all the redundancy payments to people who left the company.

2. EFF loans were available to all member countries and were paid out from the Fund's general resources.

3.He paid out of his own pocket the expenses of the publication.

I'm not discussing linguistics here as I'm not competent to, but speaking from the point of view of an ESL learner I don't see a practical use of the grammatical framework in the part relating to verb complementation that H&P put forward. Quirk offered categories of verbs along with the criteria for distinguishing between the categories,while H&P seem to offer criticisism of very basic concepts of traditional grammars without giving their own coherent conceptualization, at least not in the book I've bought. The part with verb complementation and verbs' transitivity and intransitivity patterns is the core of any language, and some mental organization of typical verb complementation patterns is extremely useful,if not indispensable tool for an ESL learner.As I said,I can't discuss who is right and who is wrong on these grammatical issues, but I can say that traditional grammars were more user-friendly reading and had more practical use for me than modern grammars seem to have.

Here's an interesting article about recent scientific research in this field http://gmc.utexas.edu/iccg5/abstracts/c ... muller.pdf
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