John and Peter are living in the same room as classmates, but since Peter comes from a poor family, he cannot give money back to his roommate even if the roommate incurs expense from/on/in/at air-conditioning. What should he say?:
-I am sorry that I can't reimburse/recompense/compensate you for expense from/on/in/at air-conditioning.
None of them, a) because they're all much too formal for a conversation with friends; b) because the prepositions are wrong; c) because of their meaning :
1) reimburse : I suspect this is what was intended, but it's not accurate. Reimburse means to pay someone back when they have already spent money on things they aren't responsible for - eg a company reimburses their employee's travelling expenses after business trips. This is not the case here, as the flatmate is responsible for paying for the A/C, at least some of it. Peter may be expected to contribute to the payment, but not to reimburse the whole sum. Notice the structure incidentally : to reimburse (somebody for) something.
2) recompense : pay money to someone because you have harmed them in some way . Eg John and Peter might tell their landlord : Don't worry - we'll recompense you for all the damage that was caused during the party. Again - the preposition is for
3) compensate : similar to recompense but with a wider use, often unconnected with money and just meaning "make up for in some way". Eg: She spent the rest of her life trying to compensate for not having been with her children when they were young / No amount of money can compensate for his death. And again - compensate for
So - none of the verbs fit in terms of meaning, they're much too formal for the context, and the prepositions are wrong. What Peter would actually say would be something like : I'm sorry that I can't contribute to /towards the cost of the a/c. or I'm sorry that I can't give you something towards the cost of the a/c. or I'm sorry that I can't share the cost of the a/c.
If he could afford it, he might say - eg You pay the bill when you're in town, and I'll reimburse you later but again it's too formal (better : You pay the bill... and I'll pay you back later) and suggests he's going to pay all the money, not just his share.
Just trying to give a bit of context to the example - language doesn't exist in a vacuum, the context is always important. The point is that "reimburse" means "pay back" -ie give someone the money for something they are not responsible for but have bought/paid for when the payment is the responsibility of another person. In your situation it's not Peter who wants the a/c but John, so the payment is John's responsibility, even if Peter benefits from it too. Reimburse could only be used in this situation if Peter agreed to pay half the cost - and therefore accepted the responsibility. Hence the context of You pay for it when you're in town and I'll reimburse you/pay you back later. Peter, in this situation, is authorising John to pay his (Peter's) half of the cost on his behalf.
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