1. He spent all that money to buy a house.

  2. He spent all that money buying a house.

  3. He spent all that money on buying a house.

Do all the above sentences mean the same, if not, what are the differences in their meaning? Is it necessary to use a preposition before buying/buy? Or is it okay to leave prepositions out in similar contexts?

  • 3
    I would say that all three are not quite idiomatic, because of the unusual redundancy of "spent" and "buy(ing)". He spent all that money on a belt. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Apr 13 '16 at 12:32
  • 2
    Also, with the exclamation "all that money", the thing purchased is typically something that can be bought for a little money. All that money is typically used in a statement about someone's extravagance. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Apr 13 '16 at 13:29
  • It could also just be used to refer to a large sum of money. – paste Apr 14 '16 at 3:13

The first question is simple; the meaning of the sentences is the same.

As for the second question, it is not necessary to use a preposition before the verb in this situation. The use of the preposition "on" comes from the idiom "to spend on". However, "to spend" works fine on its own, sometimes:

He spent all that money.

It's up to you whether or not you want to use "on" or not. In sentences 1 and 2, the idiom isn't used, so you don't need the preposition. In sentence 1 you are using a different preposition "to" with the infinitive to express purpose. In sentence 2, you're using a participial phrase.

In the end, they all sound a little redundant. I agree with TRomano's comment; cut it to just "He spent all that money on a house."


He spent all that money to buy a house.

Although most listeners would guess what you mean, this phrasing could possibly mean that the money was spent to enable buying a house, not on the house itself. (Perhaps on realtors' fees?)

He spent all that money buying a house.

The above is probably best of your listed options...

He spent all that money on buying a house

... and that one seems a bit awkward.

"Spent" and "buying" do seem a bit redundant, but unless the context makes it clear, it's not quite so — you could spend all your money renting a house or repairing one. If you want to rephrase to eliminate one of the words, you could say "He bought a house with all that money."

  • As for #3, one could say: He spent all that money on a house. Still, that's ambiguous (it could mean he spent money fixing it up, not just buying it). – J.R. May 30 '16 at 22:49
  1. and 2. are correct. 3. might be used, but I would avoid it. If you wanna use on, I suggest you use a noun "He spent all that money on the acquisition of a house". In any case, best one to use is the one without the preposition (2.), as he was in the process of buying a house when he spent the money.

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