I thought pay is used in the form of pay X (person) for A (object). But I have also found the two sentences:

  • He is paying his invoice.

  • He has three loans to pay for his house.

So how can I know if I should use a proposition for before the object?

2 Answers 2


Use "for" to describe why someone is paying.

Pay Bob for the sandwiches.

You bought sandwiches, and that's the "why."

He is paying his invoice.

This sentence does not have a "for." "Invoice" is a verb object, not a preposition object (what it needs for "for" to be used.) The invoice is being paid off.

He is paying his invoice for the new door.

Now we have a preposition object (the new door) that explains why the invoice existed.

  • 1
    Continuing with OP's example, you would pay the loans, or pay the loans for your house. But paying for the loans would mean you are paying a separate, additional fee in order to obtain the loans, not pay the loan itself.
    – LawrenceC
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 14:18

Not too difficult...just use "for" in front of the object or service you are getting: I pay for a meal in a restaurant. I pay the cashier in a restaurant.

I pay my electricity bill. I pay for my electricity.

I pay the invoice from my accountant. I pay for my accountant to see to my tax return.

You don't need the "for" when the "pay" is followed by an infinitive: I pay to ride into town on the bus.

but if it is a gerund, you do: I pay for having my windows cleaned.

but that last construction is clumsy and best avoided.

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