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People spent more expenditure on utility bills.

Is this sentence correct? We spend money on something, but do we "spend expenditure"?

Is it better to change this to "Expenditure/spending on utility bills rose"?

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  • You can improve your sample sentence and still communicate your intent by dropping the word expenditure. – Lawrence Jul 24 '17 at 13:56
  • @Lawrence: Pretty much any word can be dropped from any sentence if you rephrase the sentence so that it retains its intended message. I also highly doubt that a question about the word "expenditure" can be answered if the example sentence does not contain the word "expenditure". – Flater Jul 24 '17 at 14:04
  • @Flater This is a special case: it's not changing any other word or word order. "Spend expenditure" doesn't sound right, though oddly, reversing the directions to get "earn more income" sounds fine. Regarding dropping the word "expenditure" altogether - I suspect the OP asked this question because he found the collocation of spend with expenditure awkward. That is, it's about how to improve a sentence rather than how to use the word expenditure. – Lawrence Jul 24 '17 at 14:15
  • @Lawrence "reversing the directions to get "earn more income" sounds fine" I disagree. I'm not saying that tautologies are wrong at all costs, the meaning of the sentence is very clear, but I would have said "increase your income" or simply "earn more money". I consider it the exact same sort of tautology that should be avoided (but not to a degree of zero tolerance, tautologies are only preferrably avoided). As a side note, "earn more income" could also mean "to be deserving of more income", in which it is not even a tautology. – Flater Jul 24 '17 at 14:21
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    Is there a source for your example, or did you write it? If you wrote it, why did you put expenditure where you did? – user3169 Jul 24 '17 at 17:28
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People spent more expenditure on utility bills.

Or is it better to change this to "Expenditure/spending on utility bills rose".

I much prefer the second option. Not only does it sound more professional, it is more correct.

Merriam Webster link, take note of the main definition:

The action of spending funds.

Spending is already inherent to expenditure. If you say "There has been expenditure", you are saying that "Funds have been spent".

In the interest of avoiding tautology, I would therefore prefer to say:

Expenditure/spending on utility bills has risen.

Note that I've used "has risen" as opposed to "rose". The statement conveys a fact about past spending, perfect tense seems to fit better.

The fact that it sounds more professional (in what I can only assume to be a professional context) is just a cherry on top.

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"Expenditure" can be used here in two ways: to refer to the act of spending money or to refer to the things money is spent on (see M-W).

Either way, the actual spending is of money, you don't spend expenditure. If you spend money on utility bills, the utility charges are an expenditure.

So you could phrase the sentence like this:

People spent more on utility costs.

(Note that the utility bill is really just the utility company telling you how much you owe; you can pay a utility bill, but you spend money on utility costs or simply "utilities".)

Or:

People's utility expenditures increased.
or
People's expenditures on utilities increased.

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