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I have always found one of the many definitions of the verb 'cover' to be quite hard to grasp, and this happens when it is used to mean "to be enough to pay for". Besides my finding it strange how an adjective - 'enough' is used to define a verb, I have had some trouble with its usage.

Examples from multiple dictionaries show that 'cover' is used after a noun related to a sum of money, but because there are so few examples provided, I would like to ask you if the sentence below is correct usage of the word:

  • Please cover me this time, I'll repay you later.

This is how I used to express 'Please pay for me this time, I will return the amount I owe you later'. I have never been corrected using 'cover' in such construction, but perhaps native speakers just didn't want to risk offending me, so I am not too sure if I should continue using it that way. If it isn't good English, can I change it into something like this:

  • Please bring extra money to cover the cost for me.

You see, that's the kind of problem I am having, a lot of the constructions I tried to form around 'cover' would sound akward once I try to replace it with 'to be enough to pay for'. Using the above sentence, it would be 'PLEASE BRING EXTRA MONEY TO BE ENOUGH TO PAY THE COST FOR ME.'

So I would very much appreciate it if you can offer me some advice on how to correctly use 'cover'. Also are there any alternatives to the phrase 'pay for'?

Many thanks.

2 Answers 2

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Native English speakers generally use 'Cover' in a sentence while referring to paying a bill or supplementing somebody else's part of the bill.

To be honest, as I'm so used to saying it, I'm not 100% sure if it is 'correct' to use but it is definitely not incorrect.

An example of me using 'Cover' in a sentence:

Can you cover my part of the bill? I will pay you back as soon as I get the money.

Don't be afraid to use it in a sentence as it makes perfect sense and everyone will understand what you're trying to say.

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The bulleted examples are excellent examples of standard English! However, I do not think it is common to ask someone to bring money for you (ahead of time). The second sentence is still clear English, just awkward social graces.

Here are a few different ways "cover" can be used:

My tuition should cover the cost of room and board.
My friend covered my ticket to the jazz concert.
She pulled the covers (blankets) snugly as she fell asleep.
The bunker provided cover (shelter) for the injured soldiers.

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    Hello and welcome to ELL! Please limit your answers to addressing what the OP asks. They didn't ask about other meanings of "cover". Also, I don't understand how tuition, which is money that you pay, can cover the cost of room and board, which is also money that you pay. It's like saying your car payments should cover the rent.
    – gotube
    Jan 29 at 1:39
  • I agree with @gotube that your first example seems incorrect. Can you edit to provide supporting evidence?
    – mdewey
    Jan 29 at 12:01
  • Conversation: Does college tuition cover room and board? No, but it should. Jan 30 at 2:23
  • Hence: My tuition should cover room and board. It's a perfectly logical use of cover and the auxiliary verb should. The first part of my response answered the posted question. The second part offered examples in different contexts. Thanks for your feedback! Jan 30 at 2:25

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