1

I'm not a native speaker of English. I'm trying to teach English learners positive and negative words.

I found this word in students' textbook, which only gives me the choice between positive and negative. I doubt the correctness of the textbook. Is the word 'expensive' negative or neutral?

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Jun 13 '16 at 20:23

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

7

It really depends on the context, and because of that, I think you would be best to say neutral. For example, here are three cases:

Positive: My friend brought an expensive wine to the party for us to try.

Neutral: The electric dryer was more expensive than the gas.

Negative: I was shocked by how expensive hotel rooms were because of the convention.

I would say that in general most English speakers would say something being "expensive" is a bad thing, but actual usage is rarely that simple. Ultimately, the connotation depends on who is paying the "expensive" price.

  • All those uses are the same. One is not more negative than the other. It is the surrounding context that is positive, neutral or negative. – Lambie Jun 13 '16 at 17:23
  • 3
    @Lambie That is kind of the point. – William Kappler Jun 13 '16 at 17:46
0

The literal meaning of expensive is that it costs a lot of money. It depends on your view if that is a negative or a neutral thing. It also depends on the reason why something is expensive. It is quite a philosophical question, I think.

0

In fact, it could be both. If you use the sentence

That toy was way too expensive!

the connotation is negative.
If you use the sentence

The blue boat is more expensive than the red one

it's not. So the answer depends on the sentence.

  • That second example is not one of a positive connotation; it can still go both ways. – Jan Doggen Mar 20 at 21:01
  • That is very true. – Michael Causey Mar 21 at 19:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.