The Usage of Worth – Worthy – Worthwhile – Worth it

Many of you are probably confused with the usage of these words: worth, worthy, worthwhile, and worth it. They seem to share a similar meaning, but their usage is quite different from each other. With the hope that you can apply the words correctly and sound naturally to native speakers when you are in a conversation with them, this article will give you a better understanding of the meaning and usage of these same-same-but-different words.


How are worth, worthwhile, worthy, and worth it different from each other?

a. Worth

Worth has two forms: noun and adjective. As an adjective, it is a predicative adjective, which means it is only used after be, seem, look.

When you say A is/seems/looks worth B, you are giving A a particular value, and B is that value that you think A is equal to.

Ex. 1: She is a great scientist. She is worth our admiration and respect.

Ex. 2:

A: How much is your house worth?

B: It’s worth 1 million dollars.

In the first example, “she” owns the values which are our “admiration” and “respect”. And in the second example, “the house” owns the value of 1 million dollars.

When you use to be worth doing something, it means that something is important and useful to do.

Ex. 3: That book is worth reading.

Ex. 4: Whatever happened, it wasn’t worth arguing about.

b. Worthy

Share similar meaning with worth, but worthy is usually used for abstract values. In some ways, we can understand worthy as another epression of “good”, “noble”, or “fine”.

Ex. 5: None of his artworks was considered worthy of name until he made that statue.

Ex. 6: That is a worthy career that you could pursue.

c. Worthwhile

The meaning of worthwhile is pretty similar to worthy, and its usage is inclusive of worth’s. Worthwhile is a both predicative and attributive adjective. It can be used after to be, seem, look and can stand before a noun, too. It means “deserving” or “good enough” to be a suitable reward for material values or effort and time spent.

Ex. 7: Do you think cashier is a worthwhile job for a master holder in International Relation like you?

Ex. 8: At first I was about to buy that house, but after coming to the house for having an insight look, I didn’t think it was worthwhile, so I didn’t buy it.

One remark that you should pay attention to is that, while worth can be used before a certain amount of money or anything in material values, worthy and worthwhile cannot be used like that. We can say “that house is worth 500,000$” but we cannot say “that house is worthy of 500,000$” or “that house is worthwhile 500,000$”. If you want to talk about money, remember to use worth only.

d. Worth it

“Is it worth it?” is a common question that appears in daily conversations. “Is it (A) worth it (B)?” inquiries about the value of A in regards of its merits compared to those of B. Simply saying, we are comparing two things when raising this question. A is what we want to compare, and B is what being compared. B can be in any form of values: material or abstract.

Ex. 9: You spent 20,000$ to buy that old car. Do you think it’s worth it?

Ex. 10: Do not invest in that project anymore. It’s not worth it.

In example no.9, A is the car and B is 20,000$, while in example no.10, A is the project and B is the investment (it can be money or effort or both).

Also, you have to be noted that, worth it is mostly used after to be, and there is no noun or phrase standing behind it.

Grammar structurea.

a. Worth:

S + to be/seem/look + worth + 0

b. Worthy:

S + to be + worthy of + O/V_ing

c. Worthwhile

S + to be/seem/look + worthwhile + 0

S + to be + worthwhile + noun

d. Worth it

S + to be + worth it


These words and phrases share similar meaning but they are pretty different from each other, and you should understand them clearly in order to be able to use them correctly. We hope this article is helpful for you. If you want to leave any suggestion or feedback, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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