Money doesn’t grow on trees

It’s time to talk about money.

You can do a lot of things with money. You can spend, waste, invest, lose and lend money.

But, before you can do any of that, you must get some. As one wise person said: Money doesnt grow on trees.

In French, there is one verb – gagner – which dominates most actions which involve receiving money.

In English, we have a few different verbs to talk about money.

You CANNOT say: I win CHF 7000 per month as an accountant.

You should say: I earn CHF 7000 per month as an accountant.

In English, you earn a salary, earn money, earn a living.

The Oxford Online Dictionary for Learners defines earn as: to get/receive money for work that you do. Most of us earn a salary.


Of course, you can also win money, but NOT a salary or a payment for work.

Win means to get something as the result of a competition, game, bet (un pari), war, race or election.

You can say: Switzerland won five gold medals.

He won £3,000 in the lottery.

How many states did the Republicans win?

Congratulations. You’ve won a trip to New York.

We won the contract.

I won $100 at the casino.


We also use the verb to make when we talk about money.

Making money often involves money or income you receive from an investment, product or business that generates income for you.

Bill and Melinda Gates may earn a salary, but they have made an astronomical amount of money from Microsoft.

They say its easy to make money online. I think its a scam.

You can say:  She makes $100,000 a year.

Our company made a large profit last year.

We need to think of ways to make money.

He made his fortune on the stock market.

He makes a living as a relationship manager in a private bank in Brussels.


IMPORTANT: Generally, we use earn to talk about a salary or a wage as an employee.

I will earn more money in my new position.

He earned his living (enough money to buy the things you need in life) by working as a painter on the streets of Paris

Earn also has a more general meaning: to get something that you deserve, usually because of something good you have done or because of the good qualities you have.

As an English teacher, Joelle earned the respect of her students and colleagues.

He has earned a reputation as a tax expert.


Another verb sometimes associated with money or value is to gain which means to win, to get, or to increase.

The country gained (won) its independence in 1985.

She has gained/earned a reputation as a brilliant painter

I gain (increase) weight at Christmas time.

The euro gained (increase in value) against the dollar again today.


Exercise: Which word is correct: earn, win, gain, make. (You may have to change the verb tense)

She _____ CHF 15,000 on the stock market last week.

In my new job I will________ CHF 1000 more per month.

How much does a judge ­­________? ­­­­­­­­­­

How many medals did Switzerland ­­­­­_____ at the Winter Olympics?

I am going on a diet. I ­­­­­­­______ 5 kilos during my holidays.

She is young, but she has already ________ an international reputation for her study of whales.

If we can export more cars to Istanbul we will ­­­­­_____ a fortune.


Questions and feedback:

Garry Littman

Garry Littman

Garry Littman est le fondateur de The Language House à Genève. The Language House propose des coachings d'anglais à Genève pour les particuliers et les entreprises, ainsi que des cours intensifs d'anglais dans les pays anglophones. Garry a été journaliste en Australie et en Asie, il a travaillé pour World Radio Switzerland.

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