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I would like to say that when I get my first salary, I will buy/get a cat. Which preposition should I use with 'salary' and is it correct to say 'buy a cat'? Or shouldn't I use the word 'salary'?

  1. I will spend my salary on getting a cat. (But I am afraid this makes it sound as if the cat will cost me 100% of my salary, which is not something I want to say)
  2. I will buy a cat with/on/from my first salary.
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    "I'm going to buy a cat when I get my first salary." The implication that you haven't the readies at the moment is pretty firm. Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 13:57
  • Typically you would say, "paycheck" for this usage instead of salary.
    – Tyler N
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 15:01

3 Answers 3

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You could say this.

  • Out of my first wages I'll buy a cat.
  • A small part of my first wages will go into buying a cat.
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At least in the U.S., we don't use "first salary", because salary is the amount you make per year, and not the lump sum payment that your employer gives to you each week or month. You could say "when I get my salary this month," but we wouldn't use "first salary."

The word Americans would use is paycheck (even though your salary is no longer delivered by check, but most likely deposited directly to your bank account). However, British English does not use the word paycheck; I don't know what the idiomatic expression in the U.K. would be.

What we would say is something like:

I will buy a cat with my first paycheck.
I will use my first paycheck to get a cat.

You shouldn't say

*I will spend my first paycheck on getting a cat,

because that sounds like the price of the cat will be your entire first paycheck.

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  • The UK equivalent is pay cheque. But I don't think there's anything wrong, in either place, with simply saying first pay. I've frequently heard that expression, even though I wouldn't use it formally. Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 15:04
  • @Jason: yes, first pay could be used in the U.S. as well. Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 15:46
  • Hardly anyone in Britain is paid by cheque; your salary (non-count) goes into your bank account directly. Also, you can talk here about your first salary, this month's salary, your September salary, etc. I do see this usage on American sources too. Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 17:02
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You are correct in discarding 1, which implies a very expensive cat or a meagre salary. Furthermore, salary is, strictly, a rate of getting money (e.g. $3K per month, or $36K per year etc), and not a sum of money.

"I will buy a cat with my first salary" is acceptable. Most would interpret it to mean that you will buy the cat with a part of your first salary payment, or (by taking money from) from your first salary payment.

If you say "on" your first salary it suggests you are saying "on the date of my first salary" or "contingent on my receiving my first salary".

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