Fund, funds and funding

The use of government fund to give free higher education impacts negatively on economic development.

Here we have to ask ourselves: Is the money meant for a single, specific purpose or is it for general use?

The money that people carry around in their wallets or have in their bank accounts is used to buy all kinds of things and pay for all kinds of services. If this money is not intended for any single, specific purpose, then we can refer to it as funds (plural).

Sometimes, however, a sum of money is set aside for a particular purpose, and this ‘specific-purpose money’ is referred to as a fund (singular), and it is usually possible to imagine a name for the fund: “The Social Welfare Fund.” Often it is money organised by a particularly wealthy person, a group of people who have money, or an institution.

Let’s take a look at some examples.

Money for specific purposes

  • The fund has purchased several aerospace companies among 29 deals.
  • This money is for buying aerospace companies and is probably managed by a large organisation.
  • She has left a social welfare fund.
  • Somebody has died and ‘left’ – in some kind of legal agreement – money specifically for social welfare purposes.
  • The limited liability company is widely used for hedge funds.
  • Money used by stockbrokers for a particular kind of investment.

Money in general

  • Government funds are mainly allocated through historical incremental approach.
  • The money is for a variety of unspecified purposes for which the government is responsible.
  • The program is funded through institutional funds.
  • The money is taken from a larger sum of money that is used for all kinds of programs, not only this one.
  • At 20p each entry they raised much needed funds.
  • The money is probably going to be used for an particular purpose, but this is not specified.

Another option – if the exact source of the money is not important – would be to use the uncountable noun funding:

  • Government funding of higher education does not adversely affect the economy.
  • Probably money from taxes that was meant for several different – unspecified – purposes.
  • Indonesians who plan to study abroad require substantial funding.
  • Money from where? From earnings? Parents? A scholarship? It doesn’t matter!

Conclusion

Returning to our opening sentence, our writer was – I think – referring to a quantity of money managed by the government for a wide variety of purposes, which in this instance will be used to fund higher education. It is easy to imagine that the same money may be used for other equally or more important needs – hence the writer’s comment about the negative impact on economic development. In this case we need funds (plural):

  • The use of government funds to give free higher education impacts negatively on economic development.

In the event that the government has a separate quantity of money that is only intended for higher education funding, then that quantity of money would have a name. This – specific – fund would be less likely to impact negatively on the economy because other areas, such as defence, would also have been given their own – specific – fund:

  • The use of the higher education fund to give free higher education does not adversely affect other areas of government spending, which are already separately funded.

Notice that if a fund is for a specific purpose, its full name often appears somewhere in the text (..the higher education fund).

Meanwhile, if you are referring to a sum of money that might well be used for several different – unspecified – purposes, and this sum of money does not have a name, then use funds (with ‘s’) or funding (uncountable) as a synonym for money.

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