In the metal and mining sector, companies are facing significant problems (Hopwood, 2018). For example, they face increasing production cost due to the rapid development of new mining technologies.
Like much basic vocabulary in the field of economics, cost is a difficult word! First of all this is one of those words that can be countable and uncountable, and secondly there are some usage peculiarities with each.
As with most uncountable nouns, or uncountable versions of nouns, here we are speaking very generally:
In each of these examples, notice that cost is either high or low, or potentially multi-faceted. The project probably involves more than one cost, but these are either not specified, perhaps because it is not considered important to specify them, or they may not yet be known!
Costs (plural) is sometimes used interchangeably with – and for the same purpose as – cost (uncountable):
These both carry the same meaning, i.e. probably more than one thing has to be bought or paid for!
However, the plural version of cost suggests there are multiple things to buy or pay for, and these are already known, at least to some extent:
Notice that costs (plural) often appears at the end of sentences, and of clauses!
Here we’re talking about a single expense, which is known and might also be named:
And since we talking about a specific>cost, notice that the definite article the is probably needed.
Select appropriate forms of cost from the passage below. Later you might also want to read about other problematic words from economics!
You might also want to consider what is wrong with the opening example at the top of the page. How might it be improved, and why? (Comments below, please!)
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