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As far as I know, we normally say "in a category" and "spending on something". Which of the following sentences is grammatical?

  1. The USA's spending on this category was significant.

  2. The USA's spending in this category was significant.

3 Answers 3

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The two phrases spending on and spending in are used for different purposes. For services like health or infrastructure, or similar, we say spending on. For countries or years, we say spending in.

This second chart further demonstrates that we use on for services.

However, if we include the words 'this category', in is more common.

The USA's spending in this category was significant.

The other example is also acceptable.

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For statistics and numbers (in economics/business):
U.S. spending on something, which as seen below are three different categories of spending.

  • Total nominal spending on medicines in the U.S. from 2002 to 2022 (in billion U.S. dollars)

US total expenditure on medicine_from Statista's statistics

  • U.S. spending on debt interest climbs $659B outlay this year nearly double that of ’21,Treasury Department reports

October 22, 2023 at 3:00 a.m.

Arkansas online

  • U.S. consumer spending on media and entertainment will increase 4.8 percent a year through 2017, with digital consumption finally rivaling physical sales, according to a report yesterday.

Bloomberg News

VERSUS:

spending in a place:

[Please note: in the press, etc. we use U.S. in American English, not USA in contexts such as these regarding government spending aka expenditure.

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We normally spend money on something.

The company spent a lot of money in Q1 on transportation.

But once you begin to abstract the real world situation into charts and graphs and spreadsheets with labels, and then start speaking of the document, the document becomes a thing in its own right, while remaining at the same time a pointer to the real world that underlies it, and you would use different prepositions depending on whether you were referring to the abstraction or to the wordly things that underly the abstraction.

For example:

TRANSPORTATION.......ENTERTAINMENT......R&D
$50M.................$100M..............$3M

The company spent far more on entertainment than it did on R&D. Spending in the former category was primarily on lavish parties at gambling casinos. Included in the entertainment number are over $50M in gambling losses.

category is an abstract "bucket".

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