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Could you please explain to me the difference between the words fees and expences?

There was a sentence: She also pays most of her __________.

And I had a number of answer choices: costs / fees / expenses / payment

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Let's look at each of these words, on the assumption that you are having trouble understanding the dictionary. I will focus on the meanings of each that are closest to the others - the area of overlap, so to speak.

  • Costs: these are generally things that need paying necessarily. Cost is also a verb, meaning to incur costs or to value.
  • Payment: a payment is when money changes hands, generally in exchange for goods or services. It is the actual handing over of the money (or cheque, or use of a payment card, etc.)
  • Fees: what someone charges for something. You can have an entry fee for a museum or theme park, or be paid a fee for some speaking or writing work. A lawyer charges their clients fees. "Her fees" might refer to the fees that are due to her, or the fees she needs to pay.
  • Expenses: the cost of doing something. A person might talk about their own expenses to mean their cost of living - housing, food, utilities etc. They might also use it to mean the expenses they incurred while doing work for someone - in many voluntary positions, you can be paid expenses, meaning that the charity (or whatever) repays you any money you spend in the course of doing work for them. An expense is any case of needing to spend money for something.
  • Thanks a lot! An in this particular sentence, what should we use? Is "expences" the right answer here? – Anita Izumi Mar 8 at 8:30
  • Costs and expenses could both work, depending on context. – SamBC Mar 8 at 8:42
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"Expense" is any money you spend for something, whether you pay for buying some food, objects, contracting some services etc.

"Fee" is the mandatory money you have to pay for something, usually a service:

  • for visiting a museum;
  • for having some official document released (e.g. passport, some certificate...);
  • for education

"Fee" is sometimes (always?) similar with "tax".

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