I've checked the word spending in many dictionaries and they all say it's uncountable. For example:

However, I've seen many examples of spendings in corpora such as COCA. For example:

I think if you cut some government spendings and government itself, I think this will trickle on down to people that really need help.

How can it be explained?

  • 1
    Its more common form is singular as an uncountable nouns, but there are numerous usages of spendings as a plural countable noun expecially in the mid-20th century. books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – user5267
    Nov 8, 2016 at 12:50
  • government spending never takes s. You really need to trust native speakers here. Maybe in Indian English, I don't know. But in "standard" written English, the kind they use in schools and universities and in publications, spending never takes an s!
    – Lambie
    Nov 8, 2016 at 15:50
  • 3
    A lot of native speakers pluralize uncountable nouns if there is an implied unit of measurement. Two waters -> two cups/bottles of water, for example. I've not seen spending used that way, but we can maybe infer that it's meant to mean "categories of spending."
    – cbh
    Nov 8, 2016 at 16:22
  • "Spendings" is a valid word but "expenditures" is the preferred term. May 15, 2018 at 12:56

1 Answer 1


You can pluralize an uncountable noun if there's an implied countable noun.

You can use the word "sands" as short for "types of sand". For example, "I've seen black sand and red sand. Of these two exotic sands, ..."

If two people at a table order water, you can refer to that as "two waters" rather than "two glasses of water" or two orders.

Here, "government spendings" is short for "instances of government spending". Instances of spending are countable.

  • I think this hits the nail on the head. If an author pluralizes spendings, I'll initially give the benefit of the doubt, and assume that, rather than being a typo or incorrect grammar, the author is talking about multiple kinds of distinct spending (such as military spending, educational spending, agricultural spending, health and human services spending, etc.)
    – J.R.
    Nov 8, 2016 at 21:28
  • @J.R. By far the most common usage of this kind of plural is for more than one kind or type. Using it to mean more than one instance is less common. I read this particular case as meaning instances, but it's hard to be sure without the full context. Nov 8, 2016 at 21:32
  • @DavidSchwartz: Actually I first saw spendings in a textbook in this sentence: "Give a brief account of the plan that you normally follow throughout a month for your spendings."
    – Mori
    Nov 11, 2016 at 16:46
  • @Mori I understand that to mean something like "all of the instances in which you spend". But that may just be me. Jan 26, 2020 at 19:29

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