getting your money worth

From an NPR Morning Edition story about Hulu this morning:

He better be, or you’re not getting your money worth.

Getting your money’s worth is the standard idiom, but here the possessive inflection has been truncated — by a speaker who gave no indication of being a speaker of AAVE (in which unmarked possessives are reasonably frequent).

And it’s most unlikely to be a slip, an inadvertent error.

The standard idiom, from the Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms (2003):

get your money’s worth (spoken)

to receive good value for the amount you have paid When I see how much I spend on repairs, I wonder if I got my money’s worth with this car.

However, the unmarked possessive is very frequent, even in writing; a Goggle search on  {“get your money worth” –money’s} got 645,000 raw ghits this morning. A few examples:

Senior Citizen Discounts – Get Your Money Worth (link)

“You get your money worth” [at a certain Holiday Inn] (link)

Do You Want to Get Your Money Worth with Inkjet Printer Cartridge? (link)

And a couple with getting:

Getting Your Money Worth (link)

Dave is always there to help answering you questions so you need not worry about not getting your money worth. (link)

Why would people who don’t otherwise use an unmarked possessive use one in this case? Presumably, because the structure of your money’s worth is unclear. To start with, the category of worth is problematic; in the standard idiom, it’s a noun (taking a possessive), but in other contexts it acts like an adjective that (verb-like) takes an object: It’s not worth the price you paid. So maybe the idiom has the Adj worth in combination with a NP (your money) that is the direct object of get, in an unusual complement construction

V + direct object NP + Adj.


2 Responses to “getting your money worth”

  1. Rick Sprague Says:

    Some people have money as an attributive noun, leaving worth as the object of get (as in the standard idiom). Money worth seems rather redundant, but could persist as a (perceived) set phrase meaning “monetary value”. I googled “good money worth” to test this theory and got a small number of relevant hits, including at least one that self-consciously had ‘money worth’ in scare quotes, suggesting that it wasn’t an error. So it’s rare, but apparently it’s out there.

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