When Should You Use Cost vs. Costs? What’s the difference?

“Cost” is the noun, while “costs” is the verb. “Cost” is also the singular of “costs,” however the one word “cost” can include multiple “costs.” Don’t worry if you’re still confused. We have an entire article to explain the difference between these seemingly similar words.

Cost as a Noun

We know that a noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. Cost is the amount of money required to purchase or do something. In this case, the “amount of money” is the “thing” that the noun requires.

Costs as a Verb

We know that verbs are action words that signify “doing” something. Costs is a special verb in that it must be used with a noun. I.e., “the material costs” or “The phone costs $300.”

Costs can also modify ideas (still nouns) such as “Recklessness costs lives.” The idea being “recklessness” and the final noun being “lives.”

Costs within Cost

In its single form, cost is the sum of an entire group, while costs is the individual prices that make up the groups. For example, “The cost of roofing includes material costs and insurance costs.”

Examples of Sentences With Cost

“The cost of her recklessness was death.”

“The party cost her the scholarship.”

“I don’t think the reward is worth the cost.”

All of these examples are of a singular cost that you can trace back to the other noun in the sentence. For the first example, the noun was the idea of recklessness. The second sentence was the scholarship, and the third sentence was the reward.

Examples of Sentences With Costs

“The book costs too much money for me to buy.”

“The costs were too great for us to finish our drive.”

“We didn’t think of the costs when we signed the waiver.”

In these examples, costs acts upon a more abstract noun instead of acting with a noun. In the first sentence, the noun is money. In the second, you can infer that the costs of driving are gas costs, mileage costs, and maybe tow costs. In the third sentence, the costs could be anything from actual money to the metaphorical cost of health or safety.

Additional Examples

Consider this short paragraph:

“The TV costs 700 dollars. His guess of the cost was spot on. Even though the costs have increased. The actual cost was lower than he had anticipated.”

The first sentence has a plural “dollars.” The second sentence has a singular “guess.” In the third sentence, costs is the plural (relating to multiple TV costs). In the fourth sentence, the singular cost is the singular (relating to the singular cost of 1 TV).


Don’t worry if you struggle between cost and costs. The biggest difference is that cost is singular while costs is plural. Cost is a noun that relates to the physical thing or idea that has to be spent, while costs is the verb that interacts upon a noun that makes that noun into a singular cost. Crazy, right?