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gross OR net?

We often use these adjectives when talking about money or weight. Basically, "gross" is bigger than "net".

The gross amount can be the total after something (for example tax) has been added to the net amount. Look at this restaurant bill:

meal
$10.00
net
tax
+ $1.00
 
total
$11.00
gross

The gross amount can also be the amount before something is deducted from it. This is typical if you earn a salary or wage. For example, you may earn a gross salary of $1000, but after the government has taken $300 in taxes you receive a net salary of just $700:

gross salary
$1000
tax
- $300
net salary
$700

We often use the words "gross" and "net" when talking about weights of products and packaging. If you buy a jar of coffee in a supermarket, the weight of the coffee is shown on the label as something like "50 grams net". That is the weight of the coffee without the jar. The gross weight (coffee + jar) might be something like 200 grams. Food products do not normally show the gross weight because it's not important to you:

coffee
50 grams
net weight
jar
150 grams
 
total
200 grams
gross weight

If you decide to post your new jar of coffee to a friend, the post office will charge you by gross weight, in this case the coffee + the jar + the packaging. To the post office the net weight is not important:

jar of coffee
200 grams
net weight
packaging
100 grams
 
total
300 grams
gross weight

Look at these examples:

  • They advertised the net price but after adding on all the service charges and taxes etc the gross price was nearly double that.
  • My net pay after our greedy government takes its cut is only $1000.
  • The prime minister's net pay is ten times my gross pay!
  • You'd better use a lighter envelope to keep the gross weight under 100 grams.
  • They're cheating! The label on this packet said a net weight of 200 grams but when I took the nuts out and weighed them, they only weighed 150 grams.

gross and net as verbs

Note that when talking about money, both "gross" and "net" can also be verbs. The verb "to gross" means "to earn a certain amount of money before tax and other costs are subtracted". The verb "to net" means "to earn a certain amount of money as clear profit (after taxes and other costs are subtracted)". Here are some examples of "gross" and "net" as verbs:

  • The film grossed $500 million in its first year.
  • After all the taxes and expenses, they were left with less than half of what they grossed.
  • They netted $1.5 million on the deal.
  • People who bought and sold the shares early netted a huge profit.
Note that on this page we are talking about gross and net in the sense of a "larger amount" and "smaller amount". But both words have other meanings too. For example, as a noun "net" can mean something like a mesh that fishermen use to catch fish. And as an adjective "gross" can also mean "very wrong and obvious" (as in "a gross violation of human rights").

gross OR net Quiz

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