I have checked various dictionaries (Longman, Merriam-Webster, Cambridge), but I'm still uncertain as to the exact meaning of towards in the following sentence:

They will pay € 2,000,000 towards salary costs

Does it mean that € 2,000,000 will pay part of the salary costs, or does it mean that it will cover the salary costs? Considering the perhaps most common use of towards meaning 'in the direction of' rather than 'reaching', it seems reasonable to assume that it has the former meaning in this example, but I'm not sure.

1 Answer 1


To pay towards something means to make a contribution to its costs, as you correctly surmise.

In itself, the phrase gives no indication of the total size of the costs or the percentage that the contribution represents.

  • 3
    It strongly implies the total cost will be above 2 million Euros.
    – Jontia
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 15:25
  • 1
    @Jonita It doesn't merely imply that the costs will be above €2,000,000, it signifies this. Otherwise one would be paying the costs of and not paying towards the costs of. Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 15:29
  • 6
    Not necessarily. You could use this expression even if you had no idea of the total salary costs. You simply say what the limit of your contribution will be. Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 15:31
  • 1
    Pay-towards meaning: To subsidize ; to contribute to paying part of the cost of (something); to contribute to (something). yourdictionary.com/pay-towards. To subsidize; to contribute to paying part of the cost of (something); to contribute to (something). en.wiktionary.org/wiki/pay_towards Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 15:38
  • @RonaldSole you're right, I would be very surprised to find a phrase like this used if the total was under contribution limit, and would probably consider than an error in the reporting. That's part of the point I was making that I think the part of your answer that says "gives no indication of..." is wrong, as the phrase does indicate a lower bound for the total.
    – Jontia
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 15:43

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