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  • Where should I pay the tickets?

This is from an English material for students. (Sightseeing 3: Buying a ticket)

I learnt at school that you "pay money" and you "pay for tickets". Is "pay tickets" also OK?

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    You can also pay a fine/fee/tax/price/debt, but in general, yes, you pay (money) for an item.
    – stangdon
    Feb 7, 2023 at 22:19
  • It appears to say "Where should I pay for the tickets?" However, there is a mistake; we say "I would like to buy tickets", not "I like to". Feb 8, 2023 at 9:07

3 Answers 3

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Short answer: you are correct and that travel English guide is wrong.

The verb pay can either be transitive (takes direct object) or intransitive (takes either a indirect object, or no object).

Often, we use the transitive version, A paid B, to mean that A gave money to B for some goods or service.

Ex:

I paid Alice $20.

We use the intransitive version, A paid for B to mean A gave money to someone who is not named for some goods or service B.

Ex:

I paid for the tickets

BUT, there's another use that falls somewhere between these two general rules:

I paid the bill

In this case, we're using the transitive version, but it does not mean I gave money to the bill, it means I gave money to someone else in the amount that the bill indicated.

There are a handful of nouns that can be used here, similarly to bill. Some examples are:

I paid the amount

I paid the debt

I paid the wages

I paid five dollars

And most confusing of all (in this context): I paid the ticket!

The trick there is that ticket can either mean:

a certificate or token showing that a fare or admission fee has been paid

OR

a summons or warning issued to a traffic-law violator

Merriam-Webster

When a traffic cop gives you a speeding ticket, you pay the ticket. But you cannot pay the ticket for the museum.

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No, you're right. pay the tickets is simply a mistake.

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The correct thing to say is "where should I buy the tickets?"

In "buy" the object is what you will get. "Pay" is about what you give for it. An example using each: "I paid $35 to buy drinks for everyone". "Buy" can also mean the whole transaction, for example "I bought this cat for $100". There's no need to say "pay" since buying includes paying.

"Pay for" is special. It means "finish buying by giving the money". You'd say it after you've starting buying something. At a restaurant you might get the food then say "find a table while I pay for it". If you ordered the food over the phone, you might say "I'll go in and pay for it". But no one would ever say "I'm hungry -- let's go over there and pay for a sandwich" (they'd say "buy").

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