Session 4

Vocabulary: 12 uses of 'pay'

Sit back and enjoy the story of The Piper of Hamelin and learn 12 different ways to use the word 'pay'

Sessions in this unit

Session 4 score

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    Activity 1
  • 0 / 5
    Activity 2

Activity 2

Will the mayor keep his promise?

The mayor has agreed to pay in cash, but can he be trusted?
How do you think the story will end?

A) The mayor refuses to pay the piper and so she steals all the children from the town
B) The people of the town are so happy with the piper that they make her the new mayor of the town
C) The mayor refuses to pay the piper and so she brings all the rats back to the town
D) Something else 

To do

Watch the video and find out which option is correct. And listen out for six more uses of pay.

Watch the video and complete the activity

Show transcript Hide transcript

Hello again. I'm Darren. Let's continue the story of broken promises and revenge. A stranger, with an amazing gift for playing the pipe, has promised to rid Hamelin of the rats that are terrorising the town. The mayor has agreed to pay in cash, but can he be trusted?  

The girl played her pipe up and down the streets. From the deepest cellars and the highest attics the rats came, drawn to the sound. They followed the piper, hypnotised, to the river. The people of Hamelin watched as she waded waist-high into the deep river, still piping. The rats followed and jumped into the fast-flowing river. They drowned – every single one of them. 

The crowd fell silent. They were afraid of what they’d seen. "She must be in the pay of the devil", they thought. They grabbed their children and fled. Only one small boy remained. The piper returned to Hamelin to collect her pay. But the mayor locked the door. "Open up!" she shouted. "It’s pay day!" But the greedy mayor refused. "Give me my money, you cheat, or you’ll be sorry!" she shouted. 

The piper realized she’d been double-crossed. "You’ll all pay for this!" she cried angrily and left. That night the town held a big party. The wine flowed freely. The mayor was congratulated on getting rid of the rats without paying a penny

At midnight strange music could be heard in Hamelin. It was the piper, of course. But only children could hear the tune. All across town, whilst their drunk parents slept, children rose from their beds as if sleepwalking. They walked like ghosts, following the pipe’s haunting notes. Slowly, silently, they followed the piper out of town. She led them into a cave in the mountainside and the cave closed up. Only one child – the little boy – remained outside.   

The next morning there was shock and despair as parents discovered empty beds. They gathered in the square. The mayor looked grave. Suddenly a tiny figure appeared – the small boy. He led the way to the mountain. But the cave could not be found. Neither the children or the piper were ever seen again!

What a mystery – but that's the story. I hope you'll join me for another one very soon. Bye for now.

To do

So, the correct answer was A) The mayor refuses to pay the piper and so she takes all the children away from the town! Oh dear!

Now lets practise the different uses of pay. Have a go at this quiz.

What's the use of 'pay'?

5 Questions

We hope you've been paying attention - try this quiz to find out! Choose the best expression with pay to fill each gap.

Congratulations you completed the Quiz
Excellent! Great job! Bad luck! You scored:
x / y

Over to you

How was that? Now it's time for you to tell us a story! It can be a true story or an imagined one - but it must be your own original work. Try to use as many of the phrases with pay as possible:

  • pay up 
  • pay a heavy price 
  • pay attention 
  • pay
  • pay off 
  • pay handsomely 
  • pay in cash 
  • be in the pay of 
  • pay day 
  • without paying a penny

Email your story to us at Make sure you write 'pay story' in the subject line and in your email too. Unfortunately, we can't give individual feedback, but we do read every email, and we’ll publish our favourites here or on our social media sites.

Your stories

Mario, Italy

Yesterday, since my wife had to look after our newborn baby, she sent me to buy a lot of things at our nearest supermarket. I wrote everything down a piece of paper and went off. The parking was quite easy and without paying a penny, unlike other supermarkets where you have to pay handsomely.

After taking a trolley I started to shop, paying attention to prices. Suddenly, I lost my shopping list and I uselessly tried hard to find it for a while, then I had to fall back on my memory. I think that having a good memory always pays off and bad luck is always in the pay of carelessness. Anyway, after paying in cash at the checkout I got back home.

While I was taking all the shopping bags out of my car, I bumped into my next door friend, who looking at all my bags, said: ‘Hi Mario, is it pay day?’. When my wife checked the shopping, she pointed out that I had forgotten to buy some butter and then she asked me why I had put the shopping list amongst the apples.


Once upon a time there was a young man who moved to the city. And when he went round and round asking for a job but no one paid attention to him because he was a stranger.

Then when the night came he went to some petrol station where he met a cleaner while he was cleaning at evening and he talked to him. And he agreed to be paying the cleaner five percent of his pay if he could got him a job from his boss.

He got a job but he was in the pay of the cleaner. And whenever it was a pay day at the evening the cleaner could knock his door"pay up my portion" the cleaner said. But after sometimes his hard working paid off and his boss promoted him and moved him to another place.

But before he moved to that place the cleaner heard rumours. And he approached him and warned him "if you fail to pay my due! You will pay a heavy price" said the cleaner.

But the young man did not pay attention to that because he had realised that the connection between him and the cleaner was the fear of unknown.
When the day arrived his boss took him to a very nice place he had told him about and he gave him a room without paying a penny and he promised he will be paid handsomely.


That's the end of Session 4. In session 5, Tim's in the pronunciation workshop. Don't miss it!

Session Vocabulary

  • pay up (C1)
    pay money that is owed

    pays a heavy price (C2)
    suffers terrible consequences

    pay attention (B1)
    watch or listen carefully

    pay (A1)
    give money in exchange for goods or services

    pay off (B2)
    be successful after taking a risk

    pay handsomely (C1)
    give a lot of money in exchange for goods or services

    pay in cash (A2)
    pay using coins and notes rather than by cheque or credit card

    be in the pay of (C2)
    work for someone (often secretly and/or dishonestly)

    pay (B1)
    money you receive for doing a job

    pay day (B2)
    the day you receive your wages from your job

    pay (C2)
    be punished

    without paying a penny (B1)
    not giving money in return for goods or services