Published: 28th February 2017
Do you understand the word 'Budget' and the different ways in which it is used?
Budget is a word which we use constantly, but are we really aware of all the collocations?
British linguist Harold Palmer wrote in 1933 that “It is not so much the words of English nor the grammar of English that make English difficult… that vague and undefined obstacle to progress … consists for the most part in the existence of so many odd comings-together-of-words”. Yes, odd comings-together-of-words, which are known as collocations, pose a great challenge to learners who learn English as a second or foreign language. Recently, a teacher of Economics asked me to correct his article on ‘budget’. I came across many collocation errors in the article he had written. When I pointed out the mistakes, he said, “I find it difficult to master chunks of the language.” This proved Palmer’s statement.
There are many common collocations of the word ‘budget’. Let us look at some of them. What is a ‘tight budget’? When someone does not have enough money to spend, they say that are on a tight budget. What do the phrases ‘under budget’ and ‘over budget’ mean? If a project involves money than had been planned for, then it is said to have been done or completed under budget.
Similarly, if it involves more money than had been planned for, then it is said to have gone over budget. When something is completed not using more money than planned, we use the collocations ‘on budget’ or ‘within budget’. What is the meaning of ‘on a budget’? When someone has only a limited amount of money, the person is said to be on a budget.
- As we were on a tight budget, we couldn’t sponsor the trip.
- I was able to construct the house under budget.
- As expected, he went over budget on the wedding celebrations.
- You are expected to operate within budget.
- If you are on a budget, December is not the right time for you to travel by air.
Have you come across the phrase ‘on a shoestring budget’? If you have very little money to spend, you are said to be on a shoestring budget.
- She organised the sports meet on a shoestring budget.
Which is correct: big budget or large budget? The term ‘big budget’ refers to something that involves a lot of money. In this context, the adjectives ‘large’ and ‘huge’ cannot collocate with ‘budget’. The collocation ‘big budget’ is more common than ‘large budget’ in British English.
- Baahubali is a big-budget movie.
- It is a big-budget project.
Here are some of the verbs that collocate with ‘budget’: operate, prepare, propose, allocate, approve, present, submit, increase, draw up, plan, set, balance, keep to, stick to, adhere to and work out.
- He should learn to balance his budget.
- You must stick to your budget.
In the words of Michael Bloomberg, “The cold harsh reality is that we have to balance the budget.”